3183. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 15 August 1818

3183. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 15 August 1818⁠* 

Keswick. 15 Aug. 1818

The Corografia [1]  arrived just before your letter, & in good time, for something I perceive must be added from it to the chapter which I am now transcribing. The book appears to contain more than we had anticipated, & will be very useful.

Gov. Johnstone could not have taken possession of the Island of Fernam de Noronha without committing a direct & impudent act of hostility, – the place being fortified & garrisoned in his time. [2]  Have you not mistaken it for Tristam da Cunha, which I believe we have occupy at this time by cession from Jonathan Lambert, & no doubt with the tacit consent of the Portugueze Court? [3] 

My long expected cargo came to hand last week, & the Saints are at last installed upon my shelves. [4]  How much did I wish for you when I was opening & inspecting these treasures. Joannes de Laets work [5]  is a History of the W India Company to the year 1636. There will be much to collect from it for a second edition, which will be wanted one da at some time, whether it be in my days or not. I am Dutchman enough to make my way thro historical matter without much difficulty. This book seems to be so little known that in the Bibliotheca Belgica (which is among my last purchases) [6]  it is omitted in the list of Laets works. – Ant: Nebrissensis [7]  is one of the finest books in my possession. (Granada 1545.)

I doubt whether Barbosa (desirable as it would be to possess it) is worth its price. [8]  Bluteau would be far more useful to me. [9]  Barbosa is not an antiquarian, as Nic Ant: [10]  is in the first part of his work, & I very seldom have felt myself at a loss for any information which he could have supplied. Before I go to press with the Hist: of Portugal I must buy a set of Du Canges [11]  Glossaries – the only work of considerable expence which will be indispensable for me, – (tho I ought to have the Dict: of the Sp. Academy). [12]  I shall desire Longman to be upon the look out for it. Our great desiderata xx the are Castanheda, [13]  Gil Vicente [14]  & the Cancioneiro [15] : – & I think there is a reasonable hope that all three may be reprinted. My poor correspondent Abella was about to have reedited the Spanish Cancioneiro if he had not been disgraced, – since which I have heard nothing of him

Tom has been with me, & is about to take a house & thirty acres of land within four miles of this place, the rent 50£. He is to take possession at Lady day next. [16]  The removal is in all respects desirable, – he betters his situation, lowers his rent materially, – has a better market for the produce of his dairy, & will be within an hours walk “for a well girt man”. [17]  I shall be glad to have him so near. His wife is a woman with whom you would be much pleased.

I shall be grievously interrupted for the next eight or ten weeks. Sir George & Lady Beaumont are here. The Grand Murray will make his appearance this evening, or tomorrow, on his way to Scotland. I expect my poor old friend Charles Lloyd for a day or two this week. – And the General who draws largely upon me for society will arrive in the course of the month. – Blackstone [18]  has not yet made his appearance. – But my worst interruption is the Quarterly – {I always look unwillingly to the demands which this brings upon me, – } not {so to} quarter-day, thank Heaven, – My ways & means come easily, – both ends meet, & his Majesty has not in all his dominions a subjects who is more contented with this present lot or less anxious about the future. – I have just entered my 45th year. – I am glad to hear that you are free from rheumatism, – care & nutritious diet will do much toward removing infirmity, – for you are of a hale & longlived stock.

Love to my Aunt & the children –

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: 10 o’Clock/ AU 18/ 1818 NT; E/ 18 AU 18/ 1818
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 170. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] 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. Southey referenced this book in Chapter 37 of his History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, p. 308, when describing the town of Villa Boa in the captaincy of Goias. BACK

[2] Southey dealt with this group of islands off the Brazilian coast in History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 300–304, especially the ejection of some French settlers in 1737. Southey may also be referring to George Johnstone (1730–1787; DNB), Governor of West Florida 1763–1767 and naval commander. He was in charge of an unsuccessful expedition to capture the Cape of Good Hope in 1781, in the course of which he spent much time in the south Atlantic. BACK

[3] The remote Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha was discovered and named by Portuguese sailors in 1506, but was never occupied by Portugal, or any other country, until its first settler, an American, Jonathan Lambert (d. 1812), arrived in 1810 and declared himself sovereign and sole possessor of the island. It was finally annexed by the United Kingdom in 1816. BACK

[4] The massive collection of hagiographies entitled Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), which Southey had purchased in Brussels in 1817, had, after much delay, arrived. It became no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] 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

[6] Jan Frans Foppens (1689–1761), Bibliotheca Belgica (1739), no. 942 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Antonio de Lebrija (1441–1522), Rerum a Ferdinando et Elisabeth Hispaniarum Regibus Gestarum Decades II (1545), no. 1925 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Diogo Barbosa Machado (1682–1772), Bibliotheca Lusitana (1741–1759).This was the first major reference work of Portuguese publications. BACK

[9] Rafael Bluteau (1638–1734), Diccionario da Lingua Portugueza (1789), no. 205 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Nicolas Antonio (1617–1684), Bibliotheca Hispana (1672–1696). The second edition (1783–1788) was no. 3309 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Charles du Fresne, Sieur du Cagne (1610–1688), Glossarium ad Scriptores Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis (1733–1736), no. 953 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey never completed his ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[12] Diccionario de la Lengua Castellana compuesto por la Real Academia Espanola (1780), the authoritative dictionary of the Spanish language, published by the Royal Spanish Academy. The 5th edition appeared in 1817. BACK

[13] Fernao Lopes de Castanheda (c. 1500–1559), Historia do Descobrimento e Conquista da India pelos Portugueses (1551–1561); Southey later possessed an edition from 1797, no. 3187 in the sale catalogue of his library; and an Italian translation from 1577, no. 455 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[14] Gil Vicente (c.1465–c. 1536), the chief dramatist and lyric poet of Portugal. His Works were published first in 1561–1562. Southey later possessed an edition of 1834, no. 3681 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[15] The Cancioneiro Geral (1516), collected by Garcia de Resende (1470–1536). BACK

[16] 25 March 1819. Lady Day was a traditional day on which to begin tenancies. BACK

[17] A phrase used in Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC), Histories, Book 1, paragraph 72, which became a standard figure of speech. BACK

[18] 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 his continental tour of 1817. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Emerald Bank, Newlands (mentioned 1 time)


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