3676. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, Easter Monday [23 April] 1821

3676. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, Easter Monday [23 April] 1821⁠* 

Keswick.  Easter Monday. 1821

My dear Harry

You have here the whole epistle of P. Martyr, – in perfect form. [1]  His epistles were first printed at Alcala 1530 in folio, [2]  & the book had become exceedingly rare, so much so that when the President Lamoignon [3]  gave a copy from his library to Charles Patin [4]  for the purpose of reprinting it, – another copy, it is said, was hardly to be found. Patin’s edition is that which I possess.

There can be no mistake about the date of the letter, because they are arranged chonologically, in books, a book for each year. – I am not much surprized that men writing professedly upon the subject should not have found the passage, because they would have been likely to look in P. Martyrs Decades [5]  (which contain the earliest history of the Discovery) & therefore to disregard the other work. But it is very extraordinary that it should not have been noted by persons writing upon the history of those times (the age of Ferdinand & Ch. 5) [6]  – or, – like myself, reading more for fxx the sake of general knowledge than with any single & specific purpose. Robertson includes the book in his list of authorities & ought to have read it. [7] Roscoe ought to have read it. [8]  – I had been looking for it twenty years, as one of the collateral authorities necessary for my H. of Portugal. [9]  – P Martyr gives but sorry comfort to his friend, – but the Epistle shows that poor Arius [10]  was the first person who taught Greek at Salamanca.

The hat & the magnifico cap arrived yesterday, – the latter is just made large enough by taking out the slips meant to cover the ears in travelling. It is much approved of. The hat fits well. Let me know the cost. – I will trouble you with another commission, larger & rather xx more troublesome, – & then send you a draft for the whole amount. – It is to buy for me Cobbetts Parliamentary History, [11]  which is to be had cheap somewhere in Piccadilly, – somewhere I believe between Bond Street & the top of the Haymarket. It is a huge number of volumes – more than 20 – published at a guinea & half each. It may probably be had at half price, – but you may go as high as two thirds for it, in binding – or half-binding. I do not want his Debates [12]  nor his State Trials [13]  (which are likewise to be had) because I have the latter, & with the former have nothing more to do. But I am frequently at a stand for want of a Parl. History, & indeed cannot longer do without it. Let it be sent by waggon.

I wish we were near London that Edith May might have the benefit, or chance, of medical advice, for this cutaneous complaint affection which continues on her forehead & the back part of her neck & shoulders, but chiefly on the forehead. There is a great languor in her system. I wrote to you three months ago about an inert tumour on the eyelid, – a wisp in fact, which after gathering, began to go back, – it is still in the same state, tho a mercurial ointment was applied for about a fortnight. She is exceedingly pale. And this is not to be accounted for by her time of life, because she is & has for some time been perfectly regular. When Senhouse comes to Netherhall, I shall take her there for the sake of sea bathing. It makes me anxious, for I am afraid it will prey upon her spirits xxx to have this sort of disfigurement – at her age, – xx an evil against which of course I endeavour to do my best.

Love to Louisa

God bless you


I have had three invitations to Public Dinners in London lately. [14]  – Now to correct the 19th sheet of the Pen: War. [15] 


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ 15. Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square
Postmarks: [partial] TwoPyPst/ Unpaid; 4 o’Clock/ 26. AP/ 1821 EV
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.114. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Peter Martyr d’Anghiera (1457–1526), Opus Epistolarum (Amsterdam, 1670), p. 34, no. 1902 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey believed this letter of April 1488 described a case of syphilis in Europe before the discovery of North America in 1492, so disproving the idea that the disease had an American origin. BACK

[2] The original edition of the Opus Epistolarum had been printed at Alcala de Henares, near Madrid, in 1530. BACK

[3] Guillaume de Lamoignon (1617–1677), French jurist. BACK

[4] Charles Patin (1633–1693), French physician and numismatist, edited Opus Epistolarum (1670). BACK

[5] Southey also possessed Peter Martyr d’Anghiera’s De Rebus Oceanicus et Novo Orbe … De Babylonicae Legatione … et … De Rebus Aethiopicis (1574), an edition of this author’s ‘Decades’, no. 1811 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[6] Ferdinand II (1452–1516; King of Aragon 1479–1516); and Charles V (1500–1558; King of Spain 1516–1556). BACK

[7] William Robertson (1721–1793; DNB), History of America (1788), no. 2456 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Opus Epistolarum (1670) is listed in the ‘Catalogue of Spanish books and Manuscripts’. Southey was habitually dismissive of Robertson’s work. BACK

[8] William Roscoe, The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1796). BACK

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

[10] Arias Barbosa (c. 1465/70–1540), Portuguese scholar and Professor of Greek at the University of Salamanca 1495–1530. BACK

[11] William Cobbett, Parliamentary History of England: From the Norman Conquest, in 1066 to the Year 1803 (1806), no. 2183 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This work was in 36 volumes. It is not clear where Southey expected to buy a copy cheaply, but it was possibly from the shop run by John Hatchard (1768–1849; DNB) at 187 Piccadilly, which is about half way between Old Bond Street and Haymarket. BACK

[12] William Cobbett, Parliamentary Debates (1804–1812), no. 618 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[13] William Cobbett, Thomas Bayly Howell (1768–1815; DNB) and Thomas Jones Howell (1793–1858; DNB), Cobbett’s Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Present Time (1809–1826), no. 2734 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] Two of these invitations were to the annual dinners of the Royal Literary Fund and the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution. BACK

[15] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)


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