3742. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 23 October 1821

3742. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 23 October 1821⁠* 

Keswick 23. Oct. 1821.

In looking at Warburton [1]  to make a few memoranda before it should be packed up, I saw so much which will be useful to me erelong, & which I should feel the want of if it were not at hand, that I even replaced it on the shelf, for the present. – I have sent off a parcel of duplicates, American & others, by waggon, – they are worth carriage, – & in Abels Travels [2]  is a picture of an oran-outang which may amuse Alfred & Georgiana & my namesake, – if it does not frighten them.

You will soon receive the revised volume of Brazil. [3] Pople is now in the last chapter. The additional matter adds nearly 100 pages to its bulk, & in full proportion to its value. I have bestowed upon it as much labour as would have brought me full 200 £ had it been otherwise directed: for this I shall never recover as many pence. But it has been xx willingly & well bestowed, & the worth of the book will one day be known. – Humboldt refers often to it in his <last> volume, & says that he finds its geographical statements very correct, – tho I think he had only seen my first vol. when he wrote. [4]  He forms the same conclusion as I had done respecting the Amazons. And it is also pleasant to find that the notion which he advanced of Aguirre’s [5]  having got to the sea by some other course than that of keeping the stream of the Orellana (which I thought unfounded & untenable) has been given up by him – upon reconsidering the subject. [6] 

Sir Ch. Stuarts book is in the parcel. [7]  I never had any other from him. I have extracted the Villa-Viçosa part, which is very curious. Indeed the book is altogether so original & entertaining that I should be very glad to possess it.

I was at Lowther lately for six days, & bad weather during the whole time enabled me to make good use of long mornings among old books. There is a most extensive collection there of tracts belonging to the age of Charles 1 & O Cromwell. [8]  It is a magnificent place, & I know enough of the family, & like them well enough to be quite at ease there. The Dutchess of Marlborough [9]  was there part of the time, & I was detained beyond the time predetermined for my stay, to meet the Dean of Carlisle, [10]  – a much less agreeable man than his predecessor.

My campaign is now fairly begun, – Wordsworth & his wife will interrupt it tomorrow, – for a few days, – after which I see a long course of work before me. 424 pages of the peninsular war are printed – I am busy upon a Portugueze chapter on the events prior to Sir A Wellesleys landing, [11] the it was necessary to wait for a French book by Gen. Thiebault, [12]  which Murrays people neglected to send me in time. The first vol. will not get farther than the embarkation from Coruña, that year containing more matter for detail than any other two during the struggle. [13]  Lord Fred. Bentinck (who married Lady Mary Lowther) offered me assistance from his brother, & from Lord Hill. [14]  I do not know whether Murray intends to publish the first volume as soon as it is ready, or to wait till the work is compleated, most probably the former will be his plan.

Philip Hewitt [15]  departed last week. He was upon as intimate a footing here as he could desire, & took his leave with regret. The unfavourable weather prevented sundry excursions which had been planned with him. Another Philip was with him who proved to be nephew to Waterhouse’s brother in law, Protheroe, the late member for Bristol. [16] 

It is a long while since I heard either from you, or Henry. Indeed I should not have known of poor Burn’s [17]  departure, if John May had not mentioned it.

Senhouse & I talk of a journey to Holland in May & June next. [18]  If it be effected I must make Brussels in the way for the sake of Van Beast the bookseller. [19]  We talk of reaching Munster, visiting Worms & Spires, & taking Nancy & Rheims in the way back. Tho I can neither conveniently afford the time or the cost, yet an excursion of this kind has such an effect upon a constitution which xxxx stands in need of bracing from time to time, that I shall most likely determine upon it. A journey of six weeks or two months every year would be of essential benefit to me, – if I could afford to take it. But the works which I have in progress will square my next years accounts well. What a blessing it is to possess a chearful & hopeful [MS missing]! I would not exchange it for all the largest estate in England.

Wynne is likely to be in office – as soon as any station high enough for him can be opened. [20]  I hear this, not from himself, but from Ld Lonsdale. Ld Grenville refusing office for himself, has asked it for W., Fremantle, & Frankland Lewes. [21]  The latter has an appointment. The only difficulty xxx concerning W. is to find a place which gives him a seat in the Cabinet. This I shall be very glad of for his own sake, – he has a large family, & his fortune is not equal to his rank in life. The good which I xxxxx can look to for myself, is the bare possibility of getting a xxxxxxxxx <something> for Tom

Love to my Aunt & the Children –

God bless you



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] Clo k; [partial] E/ 1821
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 211. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 277–280. BACK

[1] Letters from a Late Eminent Prelate to One of His Friends (1808), a series of letters by William Warburton (1698–1779; DNB), which Southey was presenting to Herbert Hill as a gift. BACK

[2] Clarke Abel (1780–1826; DNB), Narrative of a Journey into the Interior of China in 1816 and 1817 (London, 1818), pp. 322–323, no. 150 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] The second edition of the first volume of the History of Brazil (1822). BACK

[4] Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent During the Years 1799–1804, 6 vols (London, 1814–1826), V, p. 311, no. 1463 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510–1561), explorer and conquistador. BACK

[6] Alexander von Humboldt, Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent During the Years 1799–1804, 6 vols (London, 1814–1826), V, pp. 430, 478. BACK

[7] Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648). Southey extracted information concerning the Dukes of Braganza, a prominent Portuguese noble family, and their residence at Vila Vicosa. The volume had been lent to Southey by Sir Charles Stuart, Baron de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal 1810–1814. BACK

[8] Charles I (1600–1649; King of Great Britain 1625–1649; DNB) and Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658; Lord Protector 1653–1658; DNB). BACK

[9] Susan Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1767–1841). BACK

[10] Robert Hodgson (1766–1844), Vicar of St George’s, Hanover Square 1803–1844 and Dean of Carlisle 1820–1844. His predecessor was Isaac Milner (1750–1820; DNB), mathematician, inventor, evangelical, anti-slavery campaigner (he converted William Wilberforce), and Dean of Carlisle 1792–1820. BACK

[11] Chapter 10, History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 425–525, dealing with events in Portugal August–November 1808. BACK

[12] Paul Charles François Adrien Henri Dieudonne Thiébault (1769–1846), French General and commander in the Peninsular War; author of Relation de l’Expedition du Portugal Faite en 1807 et 1808 (1817). BACK

[13] The first volume of the History of the Peninsular War (1823) ended with the evacuation of British troops from Corunna in January 1809. BACK

[14] Lord William Frederick Cavendish Bentinck (1781–1828), MP for Weobley 1816–1824, MP for Queenborough 1824–1826; on 16 September 1820 he married Lady Mary Lowther (d. 1863), daughter of the 1st Earl of Lonsdale. His brother who could help Southey with his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832) was Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck (1774–1839; DNB), who served in Spain before commanding British troops in Sicily 1811–1815. Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill (1772–1840; DNB), was one of the most brilliant British commanders in the Peninsular War 1808–1813. BACK

[15] Philip Hewett (1799–1879), clergyman, Rector of Binstead 1833–1879; fifth son of General Sir George Hewett, 1st Baronet (1750–1840; DNB). BACK

[16] Edward Protheroe (1774–1856), MP for Bristol 1812–1820, owner of collieries and ironworks in the Forest of Dean; in 1796 he had married Anne Waterhouse (c. 1770–1853), sister of Samuel Waterhouse (b. 1772), Southey’s old friend from his visit to Portugal in 1800–1801. Protheroe’s nephew was Philip Barker (dates unknown), the son of his sister, Elizabeth Protheroe (c. 1776–1844), who had married William Barker (1772–1838), Vicar of Broadclyst and Rector of Silverton in Devon. BACK

[17] William Burn (1750–1821) was a friend of the Southeys from their days in Portugal. A member of the Lisbon Factory, he was well known to Herbert Hill and John May, and had first met Southey in Lisbon in 1796. He moved to London in 1806. BACK

[18] This journey was delayed until 1825 and Senhouse did not accompany Southey. BACK

[19] Jean-Baptise Ver Beyst (1770–1849), celebrated Brussels bookseller, from whom Southey had bought many books on his continental tours of 1815 and 1817. BACK

[20] Negotiations had started in June 1821 to bring the followers of Lord Grenville, including Wynn, over to the government. Wynn was their most prominent spokesman in the House of Commons and it was always intended he would receive a Cabinet post. However, Wynn wished to be Home Secretary or Secretary for Ireland and for there to be a wider reshuffle, including moves to include some Whigs. He did not finally take up the post he had initially been offered, President of the Board of Control, until January 1822. BACK

[21] William Henry Fremantle (1766–1850), MP for various seats 1806–1827 and whip of Lord Grenville’s supporters in the House of Commons. He finally became a Commissioner at the Board of Control 1822–1826 and then Treasurer of the Household 1826–1837. Thomas Frankland Lewis (1780–1855), MP for various seats 1812–1834 and 1847–1855. A supporter of Lord Grenville, he was made a member of the Irish Revenue Commission on 15 June 1821, the first public sign of a possible juncture between the Grenvillites and the government, and held a variety of posts down to 1830. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Lowther estate (mentioned 1 time)


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