3236. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 26 January 1819

3236. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 26 January 1819 ⁠* 

Your Aristotle is here. [1]  Shall it be sent to you? There will be an opportunity ere-long of inclosing it in a parcel to Longmans.

Nothing could have arrived more opportunely than your letter this afternoon for there came with it the very proof sheet in which your story, if I had remembered it would have had it its place. So it is inserted just where it ought to be. – By a great piece of good fortune Neville White has procured for me the History of Paraguay, Tucuman & Buenos Ayres [2]  by D Gregorio Funes, Dean of Cordoba in Tucuman. Here I have a full Spanish account of all the transactions xx xx respecting Colonia, Rio Grande &, S Catalina & the Uruguay province, [3]  which with what I find in the Corografia Brazilica [4]  will enable me to bring down the series of public transaction without any apparent chasm to the close of the history. – I am going on, tooth & nail, with this one subject. If Dr Bell will let me, I shall send off more copy this night. – & tomorrow I expect to finish the chapter. [5]  – Of all these lives of Pombal the one in manuscript is the best, [6]  but the Aneddoti [7]  contains most particulars respecting the Jesuits. A certain Geo: Moore Esqre has set forth a life [8]  – upon the strength of materials supplied by his friend – the Marquis of Sligo. [9] You may But in what these materials have consisted it would be difficult to discover. Ex nihilo &c. [10]  This gentleman knows nothing of Portugal & as little as possible of Pombal. [11]  – I forsee that when I come to this part of the home-history [12]  I shall not be able to proceed with any satisfaction unless I can obtain a compleat collection of the Alvaras [13]  &c during his administration. But this is looking far forward.

Your old acquaintance Ratton [14]  will be of some use in the next chapter. The work continually grows under my hands, & I know not whether it it may possibly still extend to four chapters xx more. But after so much has been done this is nothing, & fifty pages in the volume more or less are not to be regarded.

It is very gratifying to perceive that Funes who has had access to archives & manuscript histories confirms the view which I have taken of all those transactions belonging to my subject as well as his, except where the Portugueze are concerned, – the only Spanish <feeling> which he has retained seems to be a hearty hatred of his neighbours. But in every other point I could not have desired a more entire conformity. The most curious part of his book is a history of the insurrection of the Indians, under one of the Inca blood, during our American war. [15]  No details had ever before been published. It is a dreadful story, – the Peruvians displayed a degree of talent very superior to my poor friends the Guaranies. Twice when they were besieging Spanish towns, they dammed up a river, & brought its waters to bear upon the walls.

Gifford has postponed both my papers, [16]  – which he was very welcome to do. I shall do no more than I can afford for the QR. in future: & I am very much disposed to think that if I get thro the subjects which have long been promised my labours will conclude with them. The Index [17]  means nothing more than that it will answer Murrays purpose to publish it, – the ER. did the same at the end of 20 Volumes. [18] 

I have long expected that Scott would have be baronetted: [19] – his means are probably ample for a Scotch Baronet (you remember the old stave A gentleman of Wales a Knt of Cales &c) [20]  – & if he be the author of the novels [21]  (as I am sure he is) – no other man has ever contributed so long & so largely to the amusement of his contemporaries. – You would like him much, if you knew him. He is a good hearted man, – frank, friendly, generous, without a spark of envy in his nature, & not in the slightest degree inflated by his extraordinary success. – As for myself I know that I am in my vocation, & all things considered I believe that I am in my place. Old George Wither’s Motto [22]  might almost serve for mine – Nec habeo, nec careo, nec curo. I look for nothing in this world, & want nothing, & wish for nothing. I am too old to change my way of life, even if I had ever been fit for any other. – And with regard to the Court, – if I had not been obliged to kiss hands upon the appointment, the Prince would never have seen his Poet. [23]  – Quid Romæ faciam, [24]  – &c–

Adamson the Newcastle Lawyer whom I usually call A–dam–son of the Muses is publishing a life of Camoens in two volumes. [25]  A pretty life it will be! He seems to be a very worthy & very simple sort of man, – with no more talents for literature than I have for dancing, & yet an uncontroulable desx inclination for it. – I have an opportunity of sending for books to Madrid, thro Kinder, [26]  who has a mercantile concern there, – & by that channel I shall endeavor to obtain Lozano, Montoya, Xarque [27]  & such other books as are wanting to compleat the Paraguay Collection. If that country were but safe, I have a strong desire to visit it once more. There will be a good deal to add in the Brazilian history whenever it may be reprinted; [28]  & tho it is very possible that this may not take place in my life time, I shall make the improvement as leisure may offer & materials occur.

Love to my Aunt. It may be yet a month before I have any domestic intelligence to communicate. [29] 

God bless you


26 Jany. 1819.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / 29 JA 29/ 1819; [partial] 10 o’Clock/ JA.29/ 1819 F.N
Seal: [trace] red wax
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 175. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 115–118. BACK

[1] Herbert Hill’s edition of the works of Aristotle (384–322 BC). BACK

[2] Gregorio Funes (1749–1829), Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos-Ayres y Tucuman (1816–1817), no. 3464 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] The complex story of the redrawing of the boundary between Spanish America and Brazil in the Treaties of Madrid (1750), El Pardo (1761) and Ildefonso (1777). BACK

[4] Manoel Aires de Casal (1754–1821), Corografia Brazilica, ou Relação Historico-Geografica do Reino do Brazil (1817), no. 3252 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Chapter 41, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 548–602. BACK

[6] ‘Vita do Marquez de Pombal’, no. 3855 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Aneddoti del Ministero di Sebastiano Giuseppe Carvalho, Conte di Oeyras, Marchese di Pombal Sotto il Regno di Giuseppe I re di Portogallo (1787), no. 2279 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] 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 edn 1819), no. 1993 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. 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

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

[10] i.e. ‘Ex nihilo nihil fit’; ‘out of nothing comes nothing’. BACK

[11] Sebastião José Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782), Prime Minister of Portugal 1750–1777. BACK

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

[13] Government decrees in Portugal. BACK

[14] Recordações de Jacome Ratton: Sobre Ocorrências do seu Tempo, de Maio de 1747 a Setembro de 1810 (1813). This work was the memoir of Jacome Ratton (1736–1820), a Franco-Portuguese businessman in exile in England. It was listed as no. 3442 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] Gregorio Funes, Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos-Ayres y Tucuman, 3 vols (Buenos Aires, 1816–1817), III, pp. 261–326, dealing with the rebellion in Peru in 1780, led by José Gabriel Tupac Amaru (1742–1781), at the same time as the American War of Independence (1775–1783). The technique of damming rivers to attack towns was used (successfully) against Sorata and (unsuccessfully) against La Paz. BACK

[16] Southey’s ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’, Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213, and ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398, were delayed. BACK

[17] Quarterly Review, 20 (March–June 1820) was a General Index for Volumes 1–19. BACK

[18] The Edinburgh Review. A General Index to the First Twenty Volumes, 1802–1812 of the periodical had been published in 1813. BACK

[19] Scott was created the 1st Baronet Scott, of Abbotsford on 22 April 1820. BACK

[20] The saying ‘A Gentleman of Wales,/ with a Knight at Cales [Cadiz],/ And a Lord of the North country,/ a yeoman of Kent/ Upon a rack’t Rent / Will buy them out all three’, is recorded in Francis Osborne (1593–1659; DNB), Historical Memoires on the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James (London, 1658), p. 25. BACK

[21] Scott had written his first novel, Waverley (1814), anonymously and his subsequent novels were advertised as ‘by the author of Waverley’. BACK

[22] George Wither (1588–1667; DNB), Withers’s Motto: Nec Habeo, Nec Careo, Nec Curo (1621). BACK

[23] Southey met George IV at a levée at Court on 11 November 1813, shortly after he had been sworn in as Poet Laureate. BACK

[24] Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (late C1st/early C2nd AD) Satires, Book 1, no. 3, line 41 ‘What will I do at Rome?’ BACK

[25] John Adamson, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Luis de Camoens (1820), no. 10 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The book was published by Longman. BACK

[26] Thomas Kinder (c. 1781–1846), a merchant who had lived in South America 1808–1810 and who had lent Southey several valuable sources both for the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813) and the History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[27] Pedro Lozano (1697–1752), Historia de la Compañia de Jesús en la Provincia del Paraguay (1754–1755); Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1585–1652), Conquista Espiritual hecha por los Religiosos de la Compañia de la Jesus en la Provincias del Paraguay, Parana, Uruguay, y Tape (1639); Francisco Xarque (1609–1691), Insignes Misioneros de la Compañia de Jesus en la Provincia del Paraguay (1687). BACK

[28] A second edition of the first volume only of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) was published in 1822. BACK

[29] Charles Cuthbert Southey was born on 24 February 1819. BACK

People mentioned

George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)
Bell, Andrew (1753–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Adamson, John (1787–1855) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)


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