3142. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 30 May 1818

3142. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 30 May 1818⁠* 


Saio a luz: Corographia Brazilica, aonde se expôem a divisam, extençam e limites de suas provincias; a descripçam do actual estado de cada huma delxas, indicando o que ali ha de mais notāvel, como sejaim as suas provoaçoens, rios, lagos, montes, portos, cabos, mineralogia, animaes, botanica, producçoens de agricultura e industria; a epocha e o methodo da sua colonizaçam &c precedida da historia desde o seu descobrimento em 1500 ate 1532, em que este paiz foi repartido em capitanias, com hum appendice das duas provincias civilmente annexas a Provincia do Gram Para; com as alteraçoens que tem havido até o presente anno. Preço 3,600 reis. [1] 

This is from the Correio Braziliense [2]  for March, & the book as being printed in Brazil may be supposed of to be no larger than one which at Lisbon would have cost 1200, – this I think being pretty nearly the proportion in which the Rio books are dearer than the Lisbon ones. From the limits of the work, it must needs be unsatisfactory, – however it will contain some of those matters of fact which I am in search of. The shortest way of obtaining it will be from Lisbon.

What whimsy can possess Blackstone [3]  that he should think an introduction necessary to me after passing several days in the same house with me! – & when I had said to him that I should be glad to see him here. – If he comes without a companion we shall be able to lodge him, unless the bed should be preoccupied, which however is not likely.

My books are in the Custom House, when they are to be got out of it depends upon great men whom Bedford does not find so alert as we could wish them. [4]  But I live in daily hopes of their deliverance. Among the works relating to Spain in Portugal in this cargo, are the Epistles of Peter Martire of Angleria, – (not his decades) [5]  a work of great importance; – Antonio de Lebrixa, Summa Nobilitates Hispanica, [6]  the quarto edition of Colmenar [7]  which comprizes his Annals as well as the Delices; Orosius: [8]  an historical work of John de Laet, the existence of which I suspected, but could never ascertain, [9]  till I found the book on Verbiests [10]  shelf: it is in Dutch, which in plain matter of history I can read with little difficulty; some French memoirs of Pombal [11]  in 4 volumes, – Linguets [12]  Histoire des Jesuites & several smaller books relating to the same prolific subject.

I have letters from Koster (Henry) – he has seen a mulatto who was born in the service of Joam Fernandez Vieira, [13]  & is still upright, with a clear eye, & a strong voice, tho he cannot possibly be less than 140. And he has heard of more “written rocks” in Pernambuco. [14]  P. Joam Ribeiro had copied those which he before heard of, – but the copies are with the rest of his papers in the hands of Government, – & it would be high treason to express a wish for obtaining them. [15]  They are well pleased with their present Governor [16]  who is ‘more than half an Englishman in most of his ideas.” & indeed ‘distrust of England has in great measure given way to fear of the United States, against which they plainly see that England would be their only protection.’ Two thirds of the tax on the trade instead of one are now appropriated to the Contribution Fund this reduces Lemprieres Consulship to about 1200£ a year. [17]  They are building a hospital, & mean also to build a Church, – but where they are to get a Chaplain I know not [18] 

You will have seen that the Princess of Wales [19]  is dangerously ill. The news at Como is that she & five of the rascals who compose her establishment have been poisoned: it is believed there on the credit of letters from Rome, & the crime is ascribed, of course, to the English. If it be true the probability is that one of these villains has seasoned a dish for another, & more have partaken of it than was intended, – such accidents have happened ere this in Italy.

We have had a full fortnight of the finest weather imaginable: – while Bedford has been complaining of cold unkindly winds, I have been luxuriating in the lake & the mountain rivers. If Rickman holds his last years purpose I am bound for Scotland with him this summer on a visit of inspection of the Caledonian Canal. [20]  – At present my summer catarrh is in full force, & has made me an uglier upper lip than ever was represented in a mask.

Coxe [21]  will look out for me his papers respecting the Jesuits, & Portugal.

Love to my Aunt & the young ones

God bless you


Keswick. 30 May. 1818.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Worting/ near Basingstoke
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 3 JU 3/ 1818
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 168. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The advertisement translates as: ‘Just published: Brazilian Chorography, which illustrates the division, extension and limits of its provinces; the description of the present state of each one of them, specifying the most notable things they contain, the description of their settlements, rivers, lakes, mountains, ports, headlands, mineralogy, animals, botany, agricultural and industrial productions; the time and method of its colonization &c preceded by a history from its discovery in 1500 to 1532, when the country was divided into captaincies, with an appendix on the two provinces annexed to the Province of Grão–Pará; with the alterations that have taken place until this present year. Price 3,600 reals.’ The volume was Manoel Aires de Casal (1754–1821), Corografia Brazilica, ou Relação Historico–Geografica do Reino do Brazil (1817), no. 3252 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] Correio Braziliense (1808–1822), a London-based liberal journal. Southey owned a complete set, no. 3203 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[3] Frederick Charles Blackstone (1795–1862), a relation by marriage of Hill. Blackstone’s mother was Margaret Bigg-Wither (1768–1842), a sister of Hill’s wife Catherine. Blackstone became Rector of Worting, Hampshire 1819–1831, Southey’s uncle Herbert Hill having held this living since 1815 (i.e. deputising as parish priest until such time as Blackstone was ready to take up his duties) – Blackstone was a Fellow of New College, Oxford and was not ordained until 1819. Southey had met Blackstone in Switzerland in June 1817 at the home of John Awdry (1766–1844), solicitor in Reybridge, and his wife Jane, née Bigg-Wither (1770–1845), another sister of Herbert Hill’s wife, Catherine. BACK

[4] The consignment of books Southey had bought in Brussels in 1817. BACK

[5] Peter Martyr d’Anghiera (1457–1526), Opus Epistolarum (1670), no. 1902 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey also possessed De Rebus Oceanicus et Novo Orbe … De Babylonicae Legatione … et … De Rebus Aethiopicis (1574), an edition of this author’s ‘Decades’, no. 1811 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] Juan de Arce de Otalara (1515/1520–1562), Summa Nobilitatis Hispanicae (1572), no. 223 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This work was not by the famous Spanish scholar Antonio de Lebrija (1441–1522). BACK

[7] Pieter van der Aa (1659–1733), Annales d’Espagne et de Portugal (1741), no. 664 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This work was written under the pseudonym ‘Juan Alvarez de Colmenar’, and this edition included the author’s Les Delices d’Espagne et du Portugal (1707). BACK

[8] Paulus Orosius (c. AD 375–after 418), Historiae Adversus Paganos (1510), no. 2099 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Joannes de Laet (1581–1649), Historie ofte Iaerlijck Verhael van de Verrichtingen der Geoctroyeerde West-Indische Compagnie (1644), no. 1671 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Jean-Baptise Ver Beyst (1770–1849), famous Brussels bookseller. BACK

[11] Pierre Dezoteux Cormatin (1753–1812), L’administration de Sébastien-Joseph de Carvalho et Mélo (1786–1787), no. 2280 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] Simon-Nicholas Henri Linguet (1736–1794), Histoire Impartiale des Jésuites (1768), no. 1514 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[13] João Fernandes Vieira (c. 1613–1681), the Brazilian landowner who helped direct the Portuguese fight to oust the Dutch from Pernambuco in 1644–1654. BACK

[14] Koster’s Travels in Brazil (London, 1816), pp. 90, 319–320, discussed ancient monuments and rock carvings in Brazil. Southey was fascinated by these reports and Koster promised to ‘make all possible enquiry’ about these and similar features; see Southey to John Rickman, 16 November 1816, Letter 2863. BACK

[15] Joam Ribeiro Pessoa de Melo Montenegro (1766–1817), a priest who was a member of the provisional government set up by a group of revolutionaries in Pernambuco, 8 March–18 May 1817. He committed suicide in the town of Paulista after the defeat of the revolutionary forces and the fall of Recife, the provincial capital. BACK

[16] Major-General Luis do Rego Barreto (1777–1840), Governor of Pernambuco 1817–1821. He was a distinguished military commander in the Peninsular War 1808–1813 and in Portugal’s political conflicts of the 1820s and 1830s sided with the liberals. BACK

[17] John Lemprière (c. 1758–1839), British Consul in Pernambuco 1809–26. Southey had met his family in Faro in Portugal in April 1801. In ports where there was a British Consul, British merchants paid a tax on their business to support consular activities and provide the Consul with a salary. But in the case of Portuguese ports, a proportion of these levies was paid into a Contribution Fund and the money was used for charitable purposes. BACK

[18] Koster had forwarded to Southey the British community in Pernambuco’s request that an Anglican chaplain be provided for them. They had started a religious and charitable fund in 1811, but they did not obtain a chaplain until 1822 and a church was not built until 1838. The British hospital opened in 1821. BACK

[19] The London newspapers had reported that Princess Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821; DNB), estranged wife of the Prince of Wales, was ‘dangerously ill’; see the Morning Post, 25 May 1818. At the time of this report, she was living at Pesaro on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Southey was kept informed of goings-on in Italy by his friend Landor, whom he had visited there in June 1817. Princess Caroline of Brunswick was living with an entourage of servants, with one of whom she was thought to be having an affair. The Rome newspapers of 15 May had carried reports that it was being rumoured that the servant in question, Bartolomeo Pergami (1783/4–1842), had been poisoned; see the Morning Post, 8 June 1818. However, Southey’s account came from Landor in a letter of May 1818; see John Forster (1812–1876; DNB), Walter Savage Landor: a Biography, 2 vols (London, 1869), I, pp. 441–442. BACK

[20] Southey and Rickman made this trip in August–September 1819. Rickman was Secretary to the Commissioners for the Caledonian Canal. BACK

[21] In History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1819), III, pp. vi–vii, Southey thanked Coxe for the communication of diplomatic correspondence. BACK

People mentioned

Coxe, William (1748–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Koster, Henry (1793–1820) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)