1792. Robert Southey to John Murray, 9 July 1810

1792. Robert Southey to John Murray, 9 July 1810 ⁠* 

My dear Sir

I shall be ready for you with the Portugueze article [1]  by the beginning of August, – had the book reached me in time it should have formed a chapter in the Register, [2]  but I waited for it till the latest moment in vain. Its want however will not be perceived there by any person so much as myself, & it will give me an opportunity of saying something about Portugal in the Review. I shall finish this first in preference to the Methodist-article, [3]  because it requires far less time, the subject furnishing its own arrangement.

With respect to New Spain [4]  I hardly know how to reply to you – With respect As to its history few men, if any, can be better versed in it, – but of its present state I know nothing. The articles in the Edinburgh have probably taken Humboldts publications for their text. [5]  I have seen a list of these for the first time in todays newspaper, – & a most unpromising catalogue it is. The only books among them which would be within my sphere of knowledge would be <are> the Tableau de la Nature 2 vols 12mo. the Essai sur la Geographie des Plantes 1. 4to. & the four numbers with their Atlases of the Essai Politique sur la Nouvelle Espagne. [6]  If these should supply me with any adequate information of the present state of Mexico, I shall have no fear of writing upon the subject. There is one book connected with it which I should be glad to possess, & which it would probably be easy to find in the some of the London Catalogues, – Gage’s account of the West Indies. [7]  I detected this author in plagiarizing even to the very printers blunders from an old translation of Gomara. [8]  – but as this is in that part of his work which describes the state of the Mexicans under their own kings, it does not necessarily invalidate that part <the greater portion> of his book which relates what he himself saw, & I am not acquainted with any later account of those parts. – The Jesuits had little to do with Mexico, except in as much as from thence they made their famous settlements in California. Of those I have just obtained one account from Spain, [9]  – another which would compleat their history is in the list on the opposite page, which if you will have the goodness to transmit to France, may probably procure for me some of my desiderata.

I know Mr Allen of Holland House, & think far more res highly of him than of any other person connected with the Ed. Review. [10]  – I believe him to be a man of good principles, – whereas Jeffray & many of his coadjutors, have either none, or those which are as bad as none. xxx He is a sound man, – who would never impose upon the world an appearance of knowledge upon a subject whereof he was actually ignorant, the easiest of all tricks, <but one> which is continually practised in the Edinburgh.

Tasso [11]  I will take care of, – & whenever an opportunity offers you shall <have> a thundering article upon the Roman Catholick religion, its own original sin, & its indelible character. [12]  – Do not forget the sheet of Nelsons Life, [13]  – I have begun, & shall proceed slowly & surely, according to my custom of turning from one subject to another whenever that on which I am employed interests me either too little xxx or too much, – an intellectual regimen which I have found equally essential for mind & body.

believe me

Yrs very truly

R Southey.

Keswick. July 9. 1810

& Humboldts publications respecting South America xxxxxxx

Journal de Voyage fait par Ordre du Roi à l’Equateur, par M. de la Condemine. 4to. 1751. – not the Relation Abregée. [14] 

Fasti Novi Orbis. Cyriac Morelli. Venice 1776. [15] 

A Latin translation of Charlevoix Hist. du Paraguay published at Venice. 1779. [16] 

Historia de Apio Abiponibus. Authore M. Dobrizhoffer. Vienna. 1784 [17] 

Storia della California. Opera postuma del Ab. D. Francesco Saverio Clavigero. Venice. 1789. [18] 

Saggio di Storia Americana dale Abati Filippo Salvador Gilij. Rome. 1780. [19] 

Hist. de la Mission des P. Capucins en l’Isle de Maragnan, par le P. Claude d’Abbeville. [20] 

Description de la France Equinoctiale, cy-devant appelleé Guyanno. [21] 

Hist. Voyage de la France Equinoctiale en l’Isle de Cayenne, entrepris par les Francois en 1652. [22] 


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 12 JY 12/ 1810
Watermark: C WILMOTT/ 1810
Endorsement: 1810 July 9th/ Southey R –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s review of Observador Portuguez (1809), Quarterly Review, 4 (August 1810), 1–24. BACK

[2] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 (1810). BACK

[3] Southey’s review of Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), in Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. BACK

[4] The Viceroyalty of New Spain included Mexico, Central America and much of the western part of the United States. BACK

[5] Edinburgh Review, 16 (April 1810), 62–102; 223–253; both reviews of recent publications by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859). BACK

[6] A series of books by Humboldt: Tableau de la Nature (1808); Essai sur la Géographie des Plantes (1805); Essai Politique sur la Nouvelle Espagne (1811), published with accompanying Atlas Geographique et Physique (1811). Southey did not review these for the Quarterly. BACK

[7] Thomas Gage (1603?–1656; DNB), A New Survey of the West Indies (1648); Southey eventually obtained an edition of 1655, no. 1191 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[8] Southey had claimed in a note to Madoc (1805), Book 6, line 142 that ‘Gage’s account of Mexico, which he pretends to have collected on the spot, is copied verbatim’ from an ‘old translation’ of Francisco Lopez de Gomara (c, 1511–1566?), Hispania Victrix (1552), published as The Conquest of the Weast Indies (1576). Southey’s assertion has since been disproved. BACK

[9] Probably the Jesuit administrator and historian Miguel Venegas’s (1680–1764), Noticias de la California (1757), which deals with the settlement of Baja, California and is a standard source for information about the early Californias. Southey’s copy was no. 3767 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[10] John Allen (1771–1843; DNB), political and historical writer. He had been on close terms with Lord Holland and his family since 1801. He toured Spain with Holland, did research for his speeches and read and critiqued his writings. He had his own room at Holland House, at meals sat at the bottom of the table and carved, and accompanied the family to social events. Macaulay claimed that Lady Holland treated him like a slave. BACK

[11] John Black (1777–1825), Life of Torquato Tasso; with an Historical and Critical Account of His Writings (1810). Southey did not review it for the Quarterly. BACK

[12] Although this was not written, it bears some resemblance to the anti-Catholic sentiments of the Book of the Church (1824). Southey views also pervaded his article on The History of the Inquisitions; including the Secret Transactions of those Horrific Tribunals (1810); Letter upon the Mischievous Influence of the Spanish Inquisition as it actually exists in the Provinces under the Spanish Government. Translated from El Español, a periodical Spanish Journal published in London (1811); Narrativa da Perseguição de Hippolyto Joseph Da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça, Natural da Colonia do Sacramento, no Rio-da-Prata, prezo e Processado em Lisboa pelo pretenso Crime de Fra-Maçon, ou Pedreiro Livre (1811), Quarterly Review, 6 (December 1811), 313–357. BACK

[13] In his letter to John Murray of 18 March 1810 (Letter 1761), Southey had asked him to provide a missing sheet from James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB) and John McArthur (1755–1840; DNB), The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. from his Lordship’s Manuscripts (1809). BACK

[14] Charles Marie de La Condamine (1701–1774), Journal de Voyage fait par Ordre du Roi a l’Equaetur (1751); and not his Relation Abrégée d’un Voyage fait dans l’Intérieur del’Amérique Méridionale (1759). BACK

[15] Cyriac Morelli [pseudonym of Domingo Muriel 1718–1795)], Fasti Novi Orbis (1776). BACK

[16] Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Historia Paraguajensis, ex Gallioc Latina, cum Animadversionibus et Supplemento (1779), no. 691 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[17] Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus, Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariæ, (1784), no. 843 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Translated by Sara Coleridge (with Southey’s encouragement), as An Account of the Abipones, An Equestrian People of Paraguay (1822). BACK

[18] Francisco Javier Clavigero (1731–1787), Storia della California: Opera Postuma (1789). BACK

[19] Filippo Salvador Gilii (1721–1789), Saggio di Storia Americana, sia Storia Naturale, Civile, e Sacra de Regni, e delle Provincie Spagnuole di Terra-Ferma nell’America Meridionale (1780). BACK

[20] Claude d’Abbeville (d. 1632), Histoire de la Mission des Peres Capuchines en l’Isle de Maragnan et Terres Circonvoisins (1614). BACK

[21] Joseph-Antoine Lefèbure de la Barre (1622–1688), Description de la France Aequinoctiale, cy-devant appellée Guyane (1666). BACK

[22] Antoine Biet (1620–16?), Voyage de la France Equinoctiale en l’Isle de Cayenne, entrepris par les Francois en 1652 (1664). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Holland House (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)


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