3217. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 6 December 1818

3217. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 6 December 1818⁠* 

I have just received a letter from Gooden. Some person has put into his hands xxx a book containing the Government correspondence with the Governors General of Brazil from 1614 to 1622, – the original papers, with the signatures of Philip [1]  & his ministers. By his account they are not of much importance, & yet he thinks I should have gleaned something from them had they been discovered in time. The owner asks five guineas for the book, Gooden is not sure that I should think it worth one; – more than one he would give himself, but not nearly what xxx is demanded. – If he purchases it I shall be able to get all the contents when I come to town, – it is never too late to correct & amplify a work on which so much labour has been bestowed as this history. [2] 

He tells me also of two volumes of Alvaras [3]  &c with the title of Condiçoens da Companhia de Pernambuco a Paraiba in the public library at Gottingen, [4]  which he has little doubt would be lent me if I applied for it. If as I suppose they relate to Pombals Company, [5]  this cannot be worth while, – for in that case they must be exclusively concerning commercial regulations.

On Friday last I finished my quarterly business, – two papers xxx insignificant in length & of little value, except in as far as they may aid the object for which they were written, – the one to assist the in obtaining national encouragement for historical painting, – the other to resist the rascally exaction of the eleven copies for the public libraries, & to express a sense of the injustice which refuses to authors a perpetual property in the work of their own hands. [6]  I have yet another paper to finish, which however is not for this number, & will soon be compleated, – upon the Catacombs of Paris. [7]  With this I take leave of the Review for two or three numbers, unless they press me about Coxes xxx Memoirs of Marlborough. [8]  And being thus clear of that impediment, & left wholly to myself without any chance of a visitor external interruption, I purpose not to take my hand from the Brazil till the word finis shall be written. In two or three days I shall dispatch a portion of copy, which enters upon the Treaty of Limits & the affair of the Reductions. [9] 

Tom was with me last week, compleating the arrangements for his removal in March. [10]  He will xxx save about 40£ in rent & taxes by the exchange, bettering every thing – except his land, which will yet be good enough. If the place suits him upon trial, I may very probably be able to purchase it with – the peninsular war, which I shall prosecute totis viribus, [11]  immediately on my return from London in the spring. [12] Edith will be confined in February or March. [13]  She suffers much both in health & spirits. – By that time I expect to finish both the Brazil & Wesley, & shall start {be} free from the press. [14]  My journey will be one of business, – I shall have to work at Sir H. Bunburys papers, [15]  – to collect from a correspondence in the hands of a Major Moor, (the Hindoo Pantheonist) in Suffolk, [16]  – to see what documents Frere can supply me with, & to get at Mr Walpoles correspondence in the foreign office. [17] 

I have resumed the long poem which I began four years ago & having written the first book, xxx laid it aside, more meo [18]  till a more convenient season. [19]  A second book is now added, & I am in a fair way with the third, so that it will soon become an object of some consequence to proceed to its completion. The plan is pretty well matured, & if it turn out as well as it promises & I have good reason to expect, I may demand a large sum for it, with confidence.

This has been the mildest season within the memory of man. the snow has only appeared once on the mountains, & was presently dissolved. We gathered kidney beans on the 20th of Nov. & should have had them till this time in abundance, had it not been for a gale of wind about a month ago which destroyed the blossoms. The annual poppies which were left to stand for seed, have pushed out diminutive leaves & flowers from their dry stalks. Tom has lilacs in blossom, & gardens which are better sheltered than ours have the appearance of Michaelmas rather than of December.

The boys will soon be coming home for the holydays – my love to them & to their mother, & to the Earl, – the Viscount, – the Dutchess & my namesake the Baron. [20] 

God bless you


Keswick 6. Dec. 1818.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: 10 o’Clock/ DE 9/ 1818 FNn; E/ 9 DE 9/ 1818
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 173. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Philip III (1578–1621; King of Spain and Portugal 1598–1621). BACK

[2] This manuscript was purchased by the publisher, Archibald Constable (1774–1827; DNB), and Southey was able to make use of it for the second edition of the first volume of his History of Brazil (1822). BACK

[3] Government decrees. BACK

[4] The Gottingen State Library (founded 1734). It was one of the leading research libraries in Germany and as it was in the State of Hanover, which shared a monarch with the United Kingdom, it might have been possible for Southey to borrow a book from its collections. BACK

[5] Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquess of Pombal (1699–1782), effectively Prime Minister of Portugal 1750–1777. He established companies to monopolise Portuguese trade with Maranhao and Para (1755) and Pernambuco and Paraiba (1756), History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 548–553. BACK

[6] Southey’s review of Haydon’s New Churches, Considered with Respect to the Opportunities they Offer for the Encouragement of Painting (1818) was held over until Quarterly Review, 23 (July 1820), 549–591. His article on the ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’ appeared in Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–219. All publishers had to submit eleven copies of every book to specified public and research libraries; and authors had copyright in their works for 28 years after publication, or their lifetime, if longer. BACK

[7] ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398. BACK

[8] Southey’s review of William Coxe, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818-1819) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

[9] Chapters 39, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 442–504, covering the Treaty of Madrid (1750), which altered the boundary between Spanish and Portuguese America, and the subsequent War of the Seven Reductions (1756–1757), to remove seven Jesuit settlements transferred to Portuguese control. BACK

[10] Southey’s brother was moving from his farm at Warcop to Emerald Bank House, in the Newlands valley near Keswick, on 25 March 1819. BACK

[11] ‘With all my powers’. BACK

[12] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832) was much delayed. He did not purchase any property with his brother. BACK

[13] Southey’s son, Charles Cuthbert, was born on 24 February 1819. BACK

[14] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) and his The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[15] Bunbury, who was Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies 1809–1816, had offered Southey sight of his papers concerning the Peninsular War. BACK

[16] Edward Moor was the author of The Hindu Pantheon (1810). He, like Bunbury, lived in Suffolk, and had offered Southey the use of papers connected to the Peninsular War – those of his brother-in-law, Sir Augustus Simon Frazer (1776–1835; DNB). BACK

[17] Robert Walpole (1736–1810) was the British envoy to Portugal 1771–1800 and Southey wished to see his official correspondence, having been sent his private papers by John May. May hoped that Southey would write a memoir of Walpole. BACK

[18] ‘In my own manner’. BACK

[19] ‘Oliver Newman’, a poem which remained unfinished and was published posthumously by Longmans as a fragment in 1845; see Oliver Newman: a New England Tale (Unfinished): with Other Poetical Remains (London, 1845), pp. 1–92. Only 1,000 copies were printed and sales were poor. BACK

[20] Southey’s nicknames for the Hills’ children. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)