1888. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 23 March 1811

1888. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 23 March 1811 ⁠* 

I got last night a tolerably rich parcel from Longman. Among its contents were the famous Liber Conformitatum, [1]  & an Augsbourg folio of which I had never heard till I saw its xx title in the catalogue. Synopsis Annalium Soc: Jes: in Lusitania, at An. 1540 usq. ad An. 1725. Authore R P. Antonio Franco Soc: ejus: Sac. [2]  It contained also Abella’s legacy of Spanish Gazettes, [3]  as many as will bind into six thick volumes, – a very curious, & to me a very important collection. Besides these he has procured for me an account of the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, printed at Cadiz, & with a written attestation of its accuracy by Josef Valcarcel, [4]  Deputy to the Cortes for the Province of Salamanca – a quien corresponde C. Rodrigo. [5]  And also an account of the Siege of Gerona, printed at Tarragona, [6]  – which I perceive has belonged to Lord Hollands friend Quintana. [7] 

Abella promises to xxx send over all the documents which appear, & I have no doubt he will keep his word. I shall take care to repay him by suitable exchanges. It is a great disappointment to me that he has left England before I could see him.

Koster has sent me his pamphlett, & no pamphlett <nothing> ever surprized me more. [8]  I knew how dearly he loved to differ from every body, but never suspected that this he was destined to establish a new principle in political oeconomy, & show that (as he has done the demonstration) that all this discussion about Bullion, with its endless intricacies, proceeds from the xxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx <error> of xxxxxxx xxxxxx having fixed a standard price for gold. the real value of which xxxxx depends upon the quantity in the market. The mines produce less, the watchmakers consume more in a proportion which will surprize you. – & thus the whole problem is solved. I had gone to sleep over Huskissons pamphlett; [9]  xx the Quarterly Review of it had not kept me awake; & because I could not comprehend the matter I had very contentedly made up my mind to remain in ignorance, supposing it to be one of those things for which I had no aptitude of understanding. Koster however has made it perfectly clear. – He is xx wrong about money in the latter part of his reasonings

I have got down Dulan’s [10]  & Cuthells [11]  Catalogues & find something in both. In the latter is a copy of Jean De Lery [12]  in French for 5/ – which you may perhaps think it worth while to purchase when you find yourself in Holborn, – if it be not gone. I have a copy – it is a very good book, & the Latin version which is in no respect better is marked in xx <a> late catalogue at two guineas. – The number is 9467.

Ballantyne sent me the other day a fine quarto History of the Culdees, [13]  from which I expected a good deal, – having a more than ordinary interest in all matters of monkish monastic history. Never was there a worse book. It is literally nothing more than an overgrown presbyterian pamphlett. My Douay acquaintance at Durham [14]  will triumph over it & well he may.

Dulan marks Pietro della Valle, [15]  Coppendales old friend x at 15/. 3 vol. 18 mo. this ought to be Coppendales edition [16]  also, but it is so cheap that I am afraid to send for it without knowing whether it contains the whole of his Travels. I suspect not, for I possess the French translation & that extends to eight rather closely printed duodecimos. [17]  This is so good a book, & Pietro so great a coxcomb withal that I would fain have the original, but I cannot think that three small volumes can possibly contain the whole, unless they are like the Elzevir Livy. [18] 

You remember Dubois at Lisbon who brought two letters to me, one from a person who did not know me, the other from a person who did not know him. He is a man of great cleverness in the way of low wit & personality, & might have been capable of something better if he had not perpetually xx indulged a mischievous temper in the use of these weapons. There is a reviewal of Kehama by him in the last Monthly Mirror, [19]  courteous enough in the main, & fair enough xxx xxxx when his incapability of apprec understanding any thing like moral excellence is taken into the account. But the conclusion is curious, – he says many persons may think the poem this burlesque, as many persons may think it, is calculated to bring all the miracles & mysteries of our holy religion into contempt & ridicule. [20]  This is pure love of malice in Dubois, who has about as much religion himself as he has morality. The Eclectic Review was in sober earnest when it accused me of being a Sun-worshipper upon the strength of an hyperbole in one poem, & a line about xxxxx in Madoc. And of impiety for calling Madoc the Lord of Ocean. [21] 

The Register [22]  seems to grow under my hands & lengthen in prospect before me. Had 1809 not been fuller of events than the preceeding year my work would have been compleated before this. 352 are already printed, & as many as 150 <nearly 200> more are ready – still I am far from the conclusion & it will require close work to finish it by the end of April, if indeed it be possible. As soon as it is done I shall take wing for the South. Katharine is teething & has been very is continually ailing – the others go on well. Your namesake promises as well as possible for docility & disposition. How are his Welsh Uncles? [23]  – My love to my Aunt, – it is time I were better acquainted with her, & in the course of a few weeks I hope to be so.

God bless you


Keswick. March 23. 1811.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: [partial] 10 o’Clock/ MR 26; E/ MA 26/ 1811
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Liber Aureus, Inscriptus Liber Conformitatum (1590), no. 472 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. A corrupt edition of Bartholomew Rinonico’s (d. c. 1401), De Conformitate Vitae B. P. Francisco ad Vitam Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (1385–1399), which drew parallels between the life of St Francis (1181/2–1226) and of Christ. BACK

[2] Antonio Franco (fl. 1710s–1720s), Synopsis Annalium Societas Jesu in Lusitania, at An. 1540 usq. ad An. 1725, (1726), no. 978 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] The origin of Southey’s collection of Spanish Gazetas 1808–1813, which grew to 24 volumes, no. 3472 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[4] Josef Valcarel Dato (dates unknown). BACK

[5] Policarpo Anzano (dates unknown), El Sitio de Ciudad Rodrigo (1810). BACK

[6] Juan Andres Nieto Samaniego (fl. 1810), Memorial Historica de los Sucesos mas Notables de Armas y Estado de la Salud Publica Durante el Ultimo Sitio de la Plaza de Gerona (1810). BACK

[7] The Spanish poet and man of letters Manuel José Quintana (1772–1857). He wrote patriotic odes and proclamations during the French occupation. BACK

[8] John Theodore Koster, A Short Statement of the Trade in Gold Bullion: Shewing the True Causes of the General Scarcity and Consequent High Price on that Precious Metal: Also Demonstrating that the Notes of the Bank of England are Not Depreciated (1810). It went into a second edition in 1811, and Koster followed this with Further Observations on Bullion and Bank Notes (1811). BACK

[9] The politician William Huskisson (1770–1830; DNB). The pamphlet was his intervention in the bullion debate, The Question Concerning the Depreciation of Our Currency Stated and Examined (1810). Reviewed by Ellis and Canning in Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 414–453. BACK

[10] The London-based booksellers and publishers A. Dulan & Co., who specialised in books in French. BACK

[11] John Cuthell (d. 1818), a bookseller whose premises were in Middle Row, Holborn. BACK

[12] The explorer, writer and Protestant pastor, Jean de Lery (1536–1613), Histoire d’un Voyage fait en la Terre du Bresil (1578); Southey possessed two copies, nos 1709–1710 in the sale catalogie of his library. The book was published in Latin as Historia Navigationis in Braziliam (1586). Southey owned two copies of the French edition, nos. 1709 and 1710 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[13] John Jamieson (1759–1838; DNB), An Historical Account of the Ancient Culdees of Iona (1811), published by Ballantyne, with the active encouragement of Scott. BACK

[14] The priest and historian John Lingard (1771–1851; DNB), who taught at Ushaw, a Catholic seminary near Durham established by priests from the English College, Douai. BACK

[15] The traveller Pietro della Valle (1586–1652), author of Voyages dans Le Turquie, L’Egypt, Les Indes Orientales (1658–1663). BACK

[16] Thomas Coppendale (d. 1833), uncle and business partner of John May. Presumably he possessed the edition that Southey desired of Pietro della Valle’s Voyages. BACK

[17] A 1745 edition of Della Valle, no. 2239 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[18] The edition of Titus Livius (59 BC–AD 17), Ab Urbe Condita, published by the Dutch firm of Elzevir in 1634. It was renowned for the minuteness and clarity of its typeface. BACK

[19] Edward Dubois (1774–1850; DNB), writer and at this time editor of the Monthly Mirror. The Curse of Kehama (1810) was reviewed in Monthly Mirror, (July 1810), 122–135. BACK

[20] Monthly Mirror, (July 1810), 135: ‘this burlesque (for such it may very possibly seem to many) is calculated to expose our holy and sublime miracles and mysteries … to all that sort of contempt, which the idle and profane wit of infidelity can heap upon it’. BACK

[21] Eclectic Review, 1 (December 1805), 899–907 (esp. 902 which described the phrases ‘Lord of Ocean’ and ‘the blessed sun,/ In unapproachable divinity’ [Madoc (1805), Part 1, Book 13, lines 53–54] as bordering ‘closely on impiety’). BACK

[22] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[23] Herbert and Catherine Hill’s sons, Edward and Herbert. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)