3667. Robert Southey to John May, 8 April 1821

3667. Robert Southey to John May, 8 April 1821⁠* 

My dear friend

I do not think the progress of Revolution in Brazil will be so rapid as to destroy the credit of Government, or materially to affect its finances for some time. Even from Para the surplus of the Treasury will be remitted to the Rio, till the people of the former place chuse to make themselves the capital of a separate republic. [1] The I hope & trust that your brother [2]  will recover what he has already hazarded, & surely he will not be so desperately imprudent as to incur any farther risque of the same kind. Meantime I look with much anxiety to the news from that country, far less for the kind of interest which I naturally now take in its fortunes, than in your account: tho, as I said before, there will be time for your brother to save what he has embarked, before the total wreck.

As many of poor dear Nash’s drawings relating to my family as I could describe & his representatives could ascertain have been sent for me to Harry’s; & among them I doubt not, are the three drawings of your God daughter, of which one was designed for you, one for himself, & one for me. Make your choice of these. Of the two which he took away in nearly a finished state, I know not which was to be preferred, – that in the lilac dress had most of the features, that in the redder one more of the character; – he expected to make the third of which the dress was not coloured when he went away, better than either. [3]  – I write now merely to say this, & to inclose proof of a more rapid progress in my autobiography. [4]  Remember me to all at your fireside, & believe me my dear friend

Yrs most affectionately


8 April 1821.


* Address: To/ John May Esqre/ Richmond
Stamped: [partial] TwoPyPost/ Unpaid
Postmark: 4o’Clock/ 12 AP/ 1821 EV
Endorsement: No. 219 1821/ Robert Southey/ – 8th April/ recd. 13th do/ ansd. 25th June
MS: Beinecke Library, Osborn MSS File ‘S’, Folder 14141. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An army revolt in Porto in August 1820 led to the election of a Cortes in December 1820 and demands that the monarchy return from Brazil, where it had fled in 1807–1808, following the French invasion. Events in Portugal produced a number of sympathetic military revolts in Brazil; one in the Province of Para was reported in The Times, 13 March 1821. These developments eventually led to the separation of Portugal and Brazil in September 1822; but Brazil did not become a Republic until 1889, nor did it disintegrate. BACK

[2] William Henry May (1785–1849), May’s younger brother and business partner in Brazil. BACK

[3] The location of the ‘lilac’ portrait of Edith May Southey is unknown; the ‘redder’ one is probably the pencil and watercolour sketch now in the collections of the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere; and the ‘uncoloured’ one is in Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. BACK

[4] The autobiographical letters Southey was writing for May. This letter possibly included part of the autobiographical letter Southey had begun on 7 April 1821, see Letter 3665. BACK

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