3389. Robert Southey to Henry Koster, 16 November 1819

3389. Robert Southey to Henry Koster, 16 November 1819⁠* 

Keswick. 16 Nov. 1819.

My dear Koster,

Having very foolishly neglected to bear in mind the connection between Mrs. Coleridge’s journey to Liverpool, and a letter to you, [1]  – the morning of her departure finds me unprepared with the despatches, and I must hurry thro them faster than I would otherwise have done.

First I have to thank you for the paper concerning Para. [2]  It did not arrive till my third volume [3]  was thro the press, I am sorry for this, because it contains some information which I was not possessed of, and the more sorry, as I have thus missed an opportunity of saying something in praise of the Conde dos Arcos, he having deserved it, and especially at my hands. [4]  Better late than never: – and there will be a second edition, one day or other, if not in my time, certainly after it. [5] 

Secondly – there is a Chaplain found. [6]  The Bishop of London called on me in the summer just before I left home, and talked to me about this very person. His name is Sandby, [7]  and he was a Winchester man, by education therefore all that could be wished. I believe he is an elder man than myself, and takes this situation because he has been ruined by becoming surety for some near friend or relation, so that a broken fortune is in this case no drawback from his character. The Bishop said he should make full enquiry concerning him, but he himself remembered him at school, and if I remember rightly, at college. The Bishop of Hereford, formerly Warden of Winchester, [8]  recommended him to the Bp of London and last week I received a letter from the latter, enclosing one from Mr. Sandby, who desired to hear from me. I advised him to notify his appointment to the Consul [9]  and to you, if they did not mean to embark immediately, and told him that he might count upon your friendly offices at Pernambuco, and that if he sailed from Liverpool, your father would be of use to him. Whether he is married or not I am not sure, but I rather think he is. [10]  He is certainly a gentleman by his connections.

Mrs. C. goes to Liverpool for the purpose of having some stays made for her daughter under the direction of Mr. Parks. [11]  She is to be at Dr. Cromptons. [12] 

My third volume is, I trust, on the way to you ere this. [13]  The manuscript of the whole work in its first rude draught is now on the shelf before me, bound in five volumes, [14]  at which, you may well suppose, I look with no small satisfaction at having thus completed what will probably be the greatest labour of my life. You will see your own name very often in the margin. [15]  Early in the year my Life of Wesley [16]  will be published, of course it shall be sent to you as soon as it comes out. I am busy upon it at this time, and have about half a volume to write.

My household is but an ailing one. Bel is by no means in good health, and Edith also is looking thin and pale. Kate and Bertha are well, and infant, however, tho he has lately had two or three bilious attacks which make one feel sensibly the frailty of an infant’s life. A seven weeks journey in Scotland was of great service to me for the time, and I am still the better for it. [17]  As soon as Wesley is finished, which I expect will be at the end of January, I go to London.

Mrs. Vardon is just brought to bed of another daughter. [18] Nash would have been with me this summer if I had not been summoned upon my Scotch tour, an engagement of some years standing. He comes down to us next year, and will perhaps be my companion on my journey home. There is some chance that the death of Lord Somerville may involve me in the troubles of law. [19]  The property bequeathed to him by his Mother’s Uncle was intended to revert to the Southeys, in case of his dying without issue. [20]  I know very little about the business at present, farther than that if any they can be recovered (for he sold the whole) it can only be by means of long law suits. [21] 

I have heard nothing from Mr. Wilberforce for a long time. But I shall see him in London, and everybody else whom I wish to see.

God bless you, my dear Koster,

Yrs affectionately,

Robert Southey.


* MS: Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro; text taken from Sousa-Leão
Previously published: Joaquim de Sousa-Leão, ‘Cartas de Robert Southey a Theodore Koster e Henry Koster, anos de 1804 a 1819’, Revista do Instituto Historico e Geografico Brasileiro, 178 (1943), 58–60. BACK

[1] A letter to Koster could be sent through his father, John Theodore Koster, of Birkenhead Priory, near Liverpool. BACK

[2] Koster had sent some information for Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819), in the form of a paper that was probably by Thomaz Antonio Maciel Monteiro (1780–1847), a Brazilian lawyer, who was later a member of the Supreme Court and 1st Baron Itamarca; see Southey to Herbert Hill, 6 October 1819, Letter 3358. BACK

[3] The third and last volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) was finally published in October 1819. BACK

[4] Marcos de Noronha e Brito, Conde dos Arcos (1771–1828), Governor of Para 1803–1806, Governor of Rio de Janeiro 1806–1808, Governor of Bahia 1810–1818. He had arranged for the Public Library in Bahia to lend Southey a copy of Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), and to send him as a gift their duplicate copy of José de Anchieta (1534–1597), Arte de Grammatica da Lingoa mais Usada na Costa do Brasil (1595), no. 1530 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 September 1812, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Four, Letter 2146. Arcos was thanked in the ‘Preface’ to Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), II, [unpaginated]. BACK

[5] The first volume of the History of Brazil went into a revised second edition in 1822; the second and third did not. BACK

[6] In 1817, at Koster’s instigation, the English expatriate community in Pernambuco had sent Southey a letter requesting his help in securing for them a chaplain, rather than directly approaching the church authorities. Discovering that responsibility for such appointments lay with the Bishop of London, Southey had endeavoured to help. BACK

[7] Charles Sandby (c. 1761–1832), B.A. Christ Church, Oxford 1783. He was Vicar of Swell, Gloucestershire 1795–1832, and Rector of Honeychurch, Devon 1816–1832. He did not take up the post in Pernambuco. The bankruptcy of the merchant Samuel Palmer (1762–1851), of Bourton-on-the-Water, in 1816 had led to actions by Palmer’s creditors to recover the debts that Sandby owed to Palmer. As Sandby had already spent time in prison for debt, this may have encouraged him to consider a chaplaincy in Brazil. BACK

[8] George Isaac Huntingford (1748–1832; DNB). In 1789 he had been elected Warden of Winchester College, a post he held until his death. He was also Bishop of Gloucester (1802–1815) and Bishop of Hereford (1815–1832). BACK

[9] John Lemprière (c. 1758–1839), British Consul in Pernambuco 1809–1826. Southey had met his family in Faro, Portugal in April 1801. BACK

[10] Charles Sandby had married Elizabeth Bourne (dates unknown) of Dalby, Lincolnshire on 10 June 1795. BACK

[11] Henry Park (1745–1831; DNB), a Surgeon at the Liverpool Infirmary 1767–1798, was a leading expert in the treatment of diseases of the knee and elbow joints. BACK

[12] Dr Peter Crompton (1760–1833) of Eaton House, Liverpool, a wealthy radical who supported John Thelwall in the 1790s and who contested elections at Nottingham (1796, 1807, 1812), Preston (1818) and Liverpool (1820). At Preston in 1818 he won 1245 votes, only 353 votes behind the second elected candidate. In 1804 Crompton had visited Southey in Keswick; see Southey to John Rickman, 6 August 1804, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Three, Letter 975, where he described Crompton as a ‘nondescript fish’. BACK

[13] The third and final volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[14] The manuscript of both Southey’s History of Brazil and his ‘Collections for the History of Brazil’ (in two volumes) were nos 3154–3155 in the sale catalogue of his library; Southey had all five volumes ‘half bound in calf’. BACK

[15] Koster was thanked, and information he provided referred to, in Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, ‘Preface’ (p. vi) and in the footnotes and marginal references (for example pp. 552–553, 777). BACK

[16] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[17] Southey’s tour of Scotland had lasted from 17 August until 1 October 1819. For his record of events, see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[18] Emily Bertha Vardon (1819–1891), born in France. BACK

[19] John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB), agricultural reformer and third cousin of Southey, had died on 5 October 1819. This produced a further round of legal tangles over the Fitzhead estate in Somerset that Somerville had inherited. BACK

[20] Somerville’s mother was Elizabeth Cannon Lethbridge (d. 1765), the daughter of Mary Southey (1704–1789) and niece of John Cannon Southey (d. 1768). The latter had inherited the Fitzhead estate from his mother Mary Cannon (1678–1738). On his death, John Cannon Southey had left a complex, ill-advised will which named Somerville as his primary heir, and Southey’s father and two uncles as the residuary legatees should Somerville die without heirs – their rights passing, in turn, to their children. Of the three Southey brothers only Southey’s father married, leading the poet to believe (after the death of his father and paternal uncles) that he and his brothers were now the rightful heirs to the Fitzhead estate. BACK

[21] After consultation, Southey did not pursue legal action. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)


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