3231. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 6 January 1819

3231. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 6 January 1819 ⁠* 

It is very long since I have heard from you, – & now I should be <more> than usually glad to receive a letter, in the hope of hearing that Edward was is thoroughly recovered. Harry when he informed me of the event in his own family, [1]  told me of Edwards illness, – but that he was doing well.

My household is very much reduced. Edith May, with her cousin Sara & Mrs Coleridge have been at Wordsworths for the last week, & will remain there about a week longer. – I thought myself as secure from all interruption during the winter, as a bear in his den, retired upon his paws: – but yesterday came a letter from Dr Bell to say he should be here this week. I am always glad to see him, – but if he had come during the idle season, it would have suited better with my inclination & convenience.

I shall send you the conclusion of the current Chapter in a day or two. [2]  – You see I am drawing near the close of this arduous work. The next chapter relates to the operations concerning the Treaty on the side of Maranham, & the expulsion of the Portugueze Jesuits. [3]  Then come Pombals other measures relating to Brazil, – the exclusive Companies, the diamond contract &c – the war of 1762– & the final cession of Colonia. [4]  The expulsion of the Spanish Jesuits – the projected revolution in M Geraes, [5]  & a concluding chapter upon the state of Brazil at the time of the removal of the seat of Government. [6]  Four chapters & not long ones, I think, will comprize the whole. Mr Walpoles papers have been of considerable use, especially the extracts from his predecessors dispatches [7] 

I have been endeavoring in vain to find when Gomes Freyre (of the Treaty) [8]  died, – whether it was before the Relaçam Abbreviada was published. [9]  Because it appears to me plain that after he had got to the Reductions & become personally acquainted with the Jesuits his opinion concerning them & their conduct was totally different from that which is expressed in the extracts from his correspondence given in the Relaçam. Unluckily none of these genealogical books are of so late a date, – nor is his name among your MSS additions to the Grandes de Portugal. [10]  It is however a matter of little consequence.

The worst of all these lives of Pombal is certainly the French one, [11]  for if the author had any materials furnished him by the family he seems to have made no use of them, & there is nothing to be collected from his book. In point of meagerness it stands almost unrivalled. All the others tho malicious & libellous to the last degree of malignity, have got a foundation of facts. A certain George Moore Esqre – has lately published a life of Pombal, with those of Alberoni & Ripperda, [12]  – he got his materials from Lord Sligo, [13]  – you may judge therefore how upon how scanty a stock he set up. At present I have nothing to do with his general administration, & shall leave the general question concerning the Jesuits for the history of Portugal, [14]  saying no more than is indispensable for making the transactions in Brazil understood.

Coxe intended to write the history of King José. [15]  – I hope he may execute this intention; – like all his books it will be made up of diplomatic material & instead of forestalling me, he will smooth the way for like a pioneer. I am reading his Memoirs of Marlborough, [16]  – a very interesting book, – by far the most valuable of all his publications. As soon as the third volume is published I shall set about reviewing it, – not without a suspicion that the reviewal may grow into a separate publication like the life of Nelson. [17]  It is highly gratifying to find Marlboroughs [18]  character rise in proportion as it is laid open.

We have had no snow in the valley yet, & altho the mountain tops have twice or thrice been powdered, the snow has never remained there four & twenty hours. The general temperature has been as mild as fine spring weather so that I have not yet taken to my flannel drawers. Your fogs are things of which we know nothing, this house has not been enveloped in one three times during the fifteen years that I have resided in it. – Love to my Aunt & the boys, [19]  & happy new years to all.

God bless you


Keswick. 6 Jany. 1819


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surrey.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 9 JA 9/ 1819; [partial] 10 o’Clock/ JA. 9/ 1818 F
Seal: [trace] red wax
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 174. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Morning Post, 21 December 1818, announced the death of Emma, the infant daughter of Mary Anne March, née Gonne (b. 1792), sister of Louisa Southey. BACK

[2] Chapter 39, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 442–504. BACK

[3] Chapter 40, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 505–547, dealing with the redrawing of Brazil’s boundaries following the Treaty of Madrid in 1750 and the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil in 1759. BACK

[4] Chapter 41, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 548–602. It focused on the Brazilian policies of Sebastião José Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782), Prime Minister of Portugal 1750–1777. These included: the establishment of exclusive trading companies in Maranhao (1755) and Pernambuco (1759); direct government control of the diamond mining district (1771); the Spanish-Portuguese War of 1762–1763; and the status of the Portuguese settlement of Nova Colonia do Santissimo Sacramento in Uruguay, which was ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Madrid (1750), receded to Portugal by the Treaty of El Pardo (1761) and finally ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Ildefonso (1777). BACK

[5] Chapters 42–43, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 603–695, dealing with the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish America in 1767; and a planned insurrection in Minas Geraes in 1789, with the aim of creating a Brazilian Republic. Chapter 43 concluded with the flight of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807–1808. BACK

[6] Chapter 44, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 696–879. BACK

[7] Robert Walpole (1736–1810; DNB) was the British envoy to Portugal 1771–1800; Southey had been sent Walpole’s papers by John May. BACK

[8] Gomes Freire de Andrade, Conde de Bobadela (1685–1763), Governor and Captain-General of Rio de Janeiro 1733–1763. He commanded the Portuguese and Spanish troops that defeated the Guarani troops in the Guarani war (or War of the Seven Reductions) in 1754–1756. Southey strongly sympathised with the Guarani, who refused to move from their lands when they were shifted from Spanish to Portuguese control by the Treaty of Madrid (1750). BACK

[9] A history of the War of the Seven Reductions, largely written by Pombal: Relação Abbreviada da República que os Religiosos Jesuítas das Províncias de Portugal e Espanha Estabeleceram nos Dominios Ultramarinos das Duas Monarchias (1756). BACK

[10] Antonio Caetano de Sousa (1674–1759), Memorias Historicas, e Genealogicas dos Grandes de Portugal (1755), no. 3739 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This copy contained ‘17 pages of MS. additions’. BACK

[11] Administration du Marquis de Pombal (1786), no. 2280 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] George Moore (1770–1840), Lives of Cardinal Alberoni, the Duke of Ripperda, and Marquis of Pombal, Three Distinguished Political Adventurers of the Last Century (1806, 3rd edition 1819), no. 1993 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This was a joint biography of Pombal with Cardinal Giulio Alberoni (1664–1752) and John William, Baron Ripperda (1684–1737), two leading figures in Spanish politics. Moore was a landowner in County Mayo, a historian and a member of the Whig Holland House circle. His father, George Moore (1729–1799), had been a merchant trading with Spain. BACK

[13] John Browne, 1st Marquess of Sligo (1756–1809); he had died at Lisbon in 1809. BACK

[14] Southey’s unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[15] José I (1714–1777; King of Portugal 1750–1777). Coxe did not write this book. BACK

[16] 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

[17] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813) grew out of his article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[18] John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722; DNB), politician and army commander. Southey did not write his biography. BACK

[19] The Hills’ sons. BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Edward (1809–1900) (mentioned 2 times)
Coleridge, Sara (1802–1852) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Sarah (1770–1845) (mentioned 1 time)
Bell, Andrew (1753–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Coxe, William (1748–1828) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)