2542. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 14 January 1815

2542. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 14 January 1815 ⁠* 

14 Jany. 1815. Keswick

You will have a third portion of Brazil [1]  in a day or two, – it is only wanting an occasion for franking it to town. In the fourth portion (which also is transcribed) you will find a full solution of Francisco de Sousas meaning. [2]  He had some blank signatures of the King, [3]  – & for the sake of gaining time by (the game he was to play) he filled up one of these with instructions to cede every thing to the Dutch, – thus delayed those succours to Recife which had they arrived in time would have crushed the insurrection. Ericeyra [4]  tells the whole story, – it is the most impudent instance of diplomatic falsehood upon record. Fr: de Sousa is the ‘perfect Embassador’ of the Portugueze, & there must be a work of his in existence which would throw great light on the history of his times. D Francisco Manuel [5]  mentions it, & calls it o famozo livro, antes perfeyto que acabado, das memorias historicas e politicas dos annos das suas Embayycidas – que saō quase dezoyto. [6]  He was brother to Fr Luiz de Sousa the Dominican Historian. [7] 

From Ericeyra, Vieyra [8]  & the Pinheiro Collection [9]  (as I call your nine MSS volumes from the Dezembarqador for whom they seem first to have been transcribed) I have a make out the whole history of the negociations with Holland.

The pieces of old Wither are printed by Sir Egerton Brydges at his private press, – they make a very small part of his works. Sir Egerton is in like manner printing many of our early writers, but I have not subscribed to them from an apprehension of that the price may be more than they are really worth, & that it is not very prudent for a man in my circumstances who must necessarily purchase so many books because he wants to have them at hand, to buy anything of which one perusal would suffice for his purpose. [10] 

Do you know any thing of the history of Joam Fernandes Vieira [11]  after the recovery of Pernambuco – Raphael de Jesus promises a second part of his history, tho of what it was to consist I cannot divine. [12]  I believe he was made governor of Angola, which looks very much like a banishment & of the worst kind.

You will see in the last Quarterly a story which you told me at Lisbon brought in to correct Forbes’s account of the same thing. [13]  He is manifestly wrong, for it is absurd to suppose that an Englishman could stand begging at a prison grate in Lisbon till somebody happened to pass who knew him. The former part of the story which you did not know is very curious. – It is a cruel thing to see how Gifford mutilates & emasculates my reviews, & still worse to see what he fosters upon me. Not contented with cutting out all that was most striking & demonstrative in my remarks upon Popes Homer, he puts in a sentence to introduce those remarks, praising the translation in such a manner which gives the xxxx lie to all that follows. [14] 

Loureiros account of Cochin China is in existence, & Langsdorff in his travels quotes a passage from the MS. which he had perused. [15]  This Langsdorff you must have seen at Lisbon, tho I did not. His book is very amusing, tho Barrow has given so poor an account of it in the Quarterly. Loureiros work will most likely be published by the Academy, – if I did not think this I would request Canning to get a transcript of it.

Frere has just sent me an epitaph for Nelson, requesting that I will allow it to occupy the vacant fly leaf at the end of the Life. [16]  It is like every thing which Frere does, very good. Both he & Canning were meant for something better than politicians.

Roderick [17]  is selling neither better nor worse than I expected. The first edition will be gone as soon as the second [18]  can be ready: but it is an edition of 500 only, & compared with fashionable poems its sale is just in an inverse proportion to its merit. I have at last begun my New England story, in irregular rhyme, the only measure which will allow of that inequality of manner & tone that the subject requires. [19]  You shall see it as it proceeds.

I received yesterday a huge pile of Mr Walpoles papers, of much more value than the former consignment; tho I have merely as yet seen their titles. There seems to be an abstract of the diplomatic correspondence for half a century before his time. [20] 

A certain M Miot published Memoirs of the Egyptian Expedition in 1804. He has now published a second edition with certain additions qui n’out pu paroitre sous le Gouvernement precedent, – one of these additions is a circumstantial detail of the massacre at Jaffa of <to> which he was an eyewitness. [21]  The poisoning story which he exclaimed against in his former edition, he accredits in this, but without positively averring it. [22]  I shall review this book. [23] 

Love to my Aunt & to the ursine nobility. [24]  I shall see them sometime in spring I hope.



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: [partial] 10 o’Clock / JA 17 / 1815; E/ 17 JA 17/ 1814
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 394–396 [in part]. BACK

[1] i.e. a portion of the MS of The History of Brazil. Southey was working on the final two volumes, which appeared in 1817 and 1819 respectively. BACK

[2] Francisco de Sousa Coutinho (1597–1660), Portuguese Ambassador to the Netherlands 1643–1650. He was charged with negotiating a settlement to the Dutch-Portuguese war, but delayed talks in 1646 until Portuguese troops could take Recife in Pernambuco. A Treaty was not signed until 1654. BACK

[3] John IV (1604–1656; King of Portugal 1640–1656). BACK

[4] Luis de Meneses, 3rd Conde de Ericeira (1632–1690), Historia de Portugal Restaurado (1679–1698), no. 3587 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Dom Francisco Manuel de Mello (1608 – 1666), Portuguese writer and soldier. BACK

[6] ‘The famous book, by a good and talented writer, of historical and political memoirs about the years of his ambassadorial duties, which were nearly eighteen’. BACK

[7] Luis de Sousa (1555–1632), Portuguese Dominican friar and historian. BACK

[8] Antonio Vieira (1608–1697), Portuguese Jesuit and writer. BACK

[9] Possibly the 9 volumes of manuscript material described as ‘Papeis Varias Politicos’ (1674), no 3852 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Brydges had established a private press at Lee Priory, Ickham, near Canterbury, in 1813. It closed in 1823. The Lee Priory Press issued rare works, in particular poetry, by British authors from the Renaissance onwards. These included two editions of George Wither (1588–1667; DNB); Shepherd’s Hunting (1815) and Select Lyrical Poems (1815). Brydges also wrote the preface to new editions of Wither’s Fidelia: A Love Epistle and The Hymnes and Songs of the Church published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown in 1815. Southey acquired a copy of the latter, no. 3038 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[11] Joao Fernandes Vieira (c. 1613–1681). He played a key role in defeating the Dutch in Pernambuco in the 1640s and 1650s. After serving as Captain-General of Angola, 1658–1661, he was Superintendant of Fortifications in North East Brazil, 1661–1681. BACK

[12] Rafael de Jesus (1614–1693) chronicled Vieira’s exploits in Castrioto Lusitano (1679). BACK

[13] James Forbes (1749–1819; DNB), Oriental Memoirs (1813), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 180–227. Southey had corrected a story told by Forbes about an English Jesuit who had been imprisoned in Lisbon; see Oriental Memoirs, 4 vols (London, 1813), II, pp. 538–30, and Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 211–212. BACK

[14] Southey objected to Gifford’s insertion of a sentence (‘Of Pope’s Homer we are, as Englishmen, proud to acknowledge the great and general merits’) at the start of his generally critical discussion of Alexander Pope’s (1688–1744; DNB) translation of Homer. The offending interpolation appeared in Southey’s review of Alexander Chalmers (1759–1834; DNB), The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper (1810), Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 60–90 (85). See also Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 January 1815, Letter 2541. BACK

[15] Joao de Loureiro (1717–1791), Portuguese Jesuit missionary who lived in Vietnam for thirty years. He was best-known as a botanist and author of Flora Cochinchinensis (1790), no. 1644 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Loureiro’s work in manuscript was referred to in Georg Heinrich Langsdorff (1774–1852), Bemerkungen auf einer Reise um die Welt in den Jahren 1803 bis 1807, 2 vols (Frankfurt, 1812), I, p. 121, no. 1417 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Langsdorff stated he had seen this work whilst he was in Lisbon between 1797 and 1802. His book was reviewed by John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB) in Quarterly Review, 9 (July 1813), 433–443. Southey’s hope that Loureiro’s manuscript would be published imminently was disappointed. BACK

[16] Frere had sent an epitaph to be annexed to a future edition of Southey’s Life of Nelson. It was not attached to the third edition of 1825; see Southey to John Hookham Frere, 16 January 1815, Letter 2545. BACK

[17] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[18] The second edition of Roderick was published in 1815. BACK

[19] Southey’s posthumously published, and unfinished, ‘Oliver Newman’. BACK

[20] Robert Walpole (1736–1810), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, 1771–1800. Southey had been asked to write his life, but did not accomplish this task; see Southey to John May, 15 January 1815. BACK

[21] Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (Paris, 1814). This included Miot’s first-hand account of the rape and murder by French troops of the population of Jaffa after the city fell on 3 March 1799 (pp. 140–148), which he was not able to reveal under the previous government. BACK

[22] The story that when Bonaparte retreated from Jaffa on 27 May 1799, he ordered that French troops who had been struck down by the plague be poisoned; Miot, Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (Paris, 1814), p. 206. BACK

[23] Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55. BACK

[24] The Hills’ sons, Edward, Herbert and Erroll. BACK

People mentioned

Canning, George (1770–1827) (mentioned 2 times)
Frere, John Hookham (1769–1846) (mentioned 2 times)
Hill, Errol (1812–1844) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Edward (1809–1900) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)