3293. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 10 May 1819

3293. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 10 May 1819⁠* 

Keswick 10 May. 1819.

At length my household seems to have resumed its natural order, – after ten weeks of that dislocation which the sickness of a mistress occasions. Edith is convalescent, tho not well, & Cuthbert has no other ailments than such as are trivial at his age. We intend to get him to church on Wednesday, if things continue as they are & the weather should permit. [1] 

I fear you will have left Worting before I can reach the south. This I shall be sorry for, for I should rather have found you there than at Streatham, Streatham being so near London, as to occasion great consumption of time & shoe-leather upon the intermediate road. Rickman will tell you how regular the transmission has been of copy & proof sheets during your absence, – & still I am far from the end. This last chapter, [2]  of which four sheets are printed, will run much beyond 100 pages; – & if I had disposed it in two papers for the Q R. I might have had 100 £ for each, – which is more than the whole volume will give me, with or without it. But it is in its proper place, & will be well worth the time it costs. I have found the want of only one important document, – the last decree respecting the Indians, by which they were compleatly emancipated. [3]  It was past by during the Regency, – after Coutinhos book, & probably not long after it. [4]  Had I known of it in time, it might easily have been obtained from Lisbon. Knowing its purport however, I have done without it as well as I could, & must supply the deficiency hereafter.

What kind of book will Lord John Russel make of his ancestors life? [5]  If I had been at leisure for such an employment, I should <have> made an xx a sketch of the intellectual, domestic & moral or immoral history of those times, for the Q R. which I was led to think of in reviewing Evelyn, [6]  & in perusing Clarendons Life & History, [7]  & Baxters account of his Own Life & Times. [8]  I have an insatiable appetite for contemporary history, – & look to your Muratori as to a feast. [9]  – I sup every xxx upon night upon the Acta Sanctorum [10]  at present, – & for my desert after dinner regale every day upon the Collection of French memoires. [11]  – It is creditable to Lord Js feelings that he should have undertaken this history, but I should doubt whether he comes to the task with a sufficient knowledge of the spirit of those times, – & have no doubt that he partakes himself far too strongly of the factious spirit of these, to form a calm judgement & impartial judgement upon the party-questions of Charles 2ds days. [12]  – How many years of reading are required before a man can become even tolerably acquainted with general history! & what will it be one or two centuries hence, – to look no farther forward? – Those were fine times for ambitious students when the omne scibile [13]  was literally attainable, & men were as contented with the terra cognita of human knowledge as the Baffinsbay-men with their miserable country;– who fancied that they had the whole world to themselves. [14] 

Tom says that having become a tribe, like Abram, [15]  he thinks his name ought to be lengthened in like manner, & so he calls his family the tribe of Tahom̄as. Tahom̄as & his tribe are all well & very much pleased with their removal, [16] xxx except the cow-part of the establishment who are transported to scantier pasture than they had been used to. His house is much like a Portugueze one, – two floors, & both entered from the ground. It is just four miles from me, – & nothing can be more beautiful than the walk, the whole way.

Love to my Aunt

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Worting/ Basingstoke/ Hampshire
Stamped: Keswick/ 298
Postmark: E/ 13 MY 13/ 1819
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 180. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Charles Cuthbert Southey was baptised at St Kentigern, Crosthwaite, Keswick, on 12 May 1819. BACK

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

[3] Jesuit administration of Indian settlements had been replaced in 1757–1758 by the rule of State-appointed Directors and officials. A Royal Decree of 12 May 1798 placed Indians on the same legal footing as other Brazilians in many (but not all) respects. In particular, if the authorities considered they were ‘unemployed’ they could be compelled to work for settlers or the State. This was a form of continued servitude, if not quite slavery. BACK

[4] José Joaquim da Cunha de Azeredo Coutinho (1742–1821; Bishop of Pernambuco 1794–1802), Ensaio Economico sobre o Comercio de Portugal e Suas Colonias (1794). The ‘Regency’ was the reign of John VI (1767–1826; King of Portugal 1816–1826), while he was Prince Regent 1799–1816. However, his mother, Maria I (1734–1816; Queen of Portugal 1777–1816), had been declared insane in 1792 and John VI’s rule effectively dates from this year. BACK

[5] Lord John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (1792–1878; DNB), Whig MP for various seats 1813–1861, Prime Minister 1846–1852, 1865–1866. The book was The Life of William, Lord Russell, with Some Account of the Times in which He Lived (1819), a biography of William Russell, Lord Russell (1639–1683; DNB). BACK

[6] Southey’s review of Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn (1818) appeared in Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 1–54. BACK

[7] Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609–1674; DNB), The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1807) and The Life of Edward, Earl of Clarendon (1761), nos 596–597 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Either Richard Baxter (1615–1691; DNB), History of His Life and Times (1713) or Narrative of His Life and Times (1696), nos 132 and 239, respectively, in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Possibly a reference to a new edition of Ludovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750), Annali d’Italia dal Principio dell’Era Volgare Sino all’Anno MDCCXLIX (1818–1821). BACK

[10] Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), a huge compendium of hagiographies that Southey had bought in 1817, no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[11] Collection Universelle des Mémoires Particuliers Relatifs a l’Histoire de France (1785–1790), no. 1062 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] Charles II (1630–1685; King of Great Britain 1660–1685; DNB). BACK

[13] ‘all that can be known’. BACK

[14] The Inuit people of North-West Greenland told Sir John Ross (1777–1856; DNB) in August 1818 that they had considered themselves the only people in the world before his arrival: A Voyage of Discovery: Made under the Orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty’s Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the Purpose of Exploring Baffin’s Bay, and Enquiring into the Probability of a North-West Passage (London, 1819), pp. 168–169. BACK

[15] The biblical patriarch, Abram, whose name God lengthened to Abraham, ‘father of many nations’, Genesis 17: 5. Tom Southey had six children: Margaret Hill Southey (b. 1811); Mary Hill Southey (b. 1812); Robert Castle Southey (1813–1828); Herbert Castle Southey (1815–1864); Eleanor Thomasina Southey (1816–1835) and Sarah Louise Southey (1818–1850). Still to arrive were Nelson Castle Southey (1820–1834), Sophia Jane Southey (1822–1859) and Thomas Castle Southey (1824–1896). BACK

[16] Tom Southey and his family had moved to a new farm in Newlands, near Keswick, from 25 March 1819. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)