1667. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 10 August 1809

1667. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 10 August 1809 ⁠* 

August 10. 1809.

My views on the Stewardship are at end, – a practical farmer & miner being required. [1]  Had it suited me my interest would have carried it, – for Lord Lonsdale received the application in the handsomest manner & left it to Sir George Beaumont to express his full acquiescence to Lord Mulgrave, [2]  in whose gift it is, & with whom Sir G is <so> intimate, that he fully expected to succeed if the thing were not already promised. I find that it really is as Lord Mulgrave has stated, & that the present possessor, with a Clerk, is employed 17 or 18 hours out of the four & twenty. – On Scott’s part there has been nothing but hearty good will towards me, – of that I am well assured. On Cannings he assures me it has been the same, – indeed to what purpose should he aim at cajoling his friends, or me? – The office of precis-writer he would have offered me had it been worth my acceptance, & I rather think both from Scotts letter, & from something which my old schoolfellow Dickenson (the member for Somersetshire)  [3]  said to me the other day, that he expected the Secretarys<hip> at Lisbon might have been agreeable to me. As things now are that is out of the question, – & all I can do is to make interest for the succession to old Dutens, whenever he chuses to vacate the office of Historiographer, which for what merits Heaven knows was bestowed upon this Frenchman many years ago with a salary of 400£ a year. [4]  – This desire I have made known to Scott, & this there is good prospect of my obtaining thro Lord Lonsdale, – if not by any other channel. His answer to Senhouse conveyed an invitation to me. Senhouse is going to visit him on Monday next, & I shall take that opportunity. The grounds at Lowther are the finest in England, – I shall see them at leisure & having Humphrey Senhouse in the house shall contrive to pass two days there pleasantly enough.

Molina is translated by an American & printed in America. [5]  Longman sent it to me to know if it should be reprinted here, – & I added the two Appendices & a few notes. [6]  As to Mort Arthur, they have made me play the dog in the manger towards Scott, who would have edited it if he had not heard that I was about it, – but I shall soon put an end to all further procrastination & tell L & R that if they do not chuse to publish it at once, Ballantyne & Miller [7]  will, – for I will not prevent S. from doing it, unless I do it myself. [8]  – P. Girbals Travels are printed in the Mercurio Peruano [9]  which I gutted when last in town, – I believe all the travels which were contained in this work are given in the appendix to a book made up from it under the catchpenny title of the Present State of Peru. [10]  The copy of the Mercurio which John Allen [11]  obtained for me had Sobrevielas map of the Ucayali [12]  & I took it to Arrowsmith to copy. [13]  It had long been a desideration with him

The chest with the large folios came here. Unluckily neither Bayle [14]  nor Moreri [15]  are the best edition, & I sought in vain in the former for some account of Villegagnon [16]  to which I wished to have referred. I do not wonder that Pinkertons book surprized you. It is patched up with such utter carelessness that he gravely tells you Chili tho so written, is to be pronounced Cili, translating from Molina, & forgetting that the Italian Pronunciation is not the same as the English. [17]  I have heard that a good work of the same kind by a Dr Playfair has appeared. [18] 

The name of Faccius [19]  is new to me, – I will look in Tiraboschi [20]  for some information about him. Jacobus de Voragini is an old acquaintance of mine, if as I believe, he be the author of the Aurea Legenda. [21]  Your extract from him is curious. The Sangreal occurs in Mort Arthur, [22]  but there is a distinct Romance of that title, which I have never seen. [23]  I have read some of the Round Table Romances lately, with the specific purpose of illustrating Mort Arthur, & somewhat more for my own amusement. [24]  They are very inferior to the Spanish books of chivalry, I have however gleaned from them a few extracts which throw some light upon the manners of their age.

Hardcastle was here yesterday. The Treasurer of the Missionary Society & one of its main supports & Directors. [25]  He tells me they meditate a mission to Madagascar. [26]  Flacourts account of that Island which you bought in London turns out to be an excellent book; [27]  – I want a work which you read in Lisbon & which I have sought for in vain to connect Flacourts Hist. of the French Colony there with the account in Dellons Travels, [28]  – It is called Relations de Bresil – Madagascar &c [29]  – I particularly want it because by your memoranda it appears that some detail of the Dutch improvements in Pernambuco was given there. – At any rate I shall find it at Edinburgh, for there is a copy in the Advocates Library, tho I could not make Scott find it for me. – I have sent a list of books to a young man who is going to Cadiz, & who I believe will take some pains to procure them for me. Seville I should suppose to be a good storehouse for them. Sealy I am afraid is not likely to care much about executing such a commission at Lisbon, one list should be put into John Bells hands. [30] 

Edward got over to Lisbon as a private in the ranks, – how he got out of the Militia is best known to himself. A Major Chamberlin [31]  whom I never before heard of wrote to tell me this, & that he hoped to get him a commission in a Port. regiment which he was raising, & that Lord John Fitzroy [32]  would equip him. Presently came a letter from this xxxx <unlucky> lad himself dated Abrantes, saying he was Lieutenant & Adjutant in the Portugueze regiment of Olivara & that if I asked him to what he was indebted for his promotion, he must answer to his own good conduct. Not a word of Chamberlin nor of Lord Fitzroy! – Of course I answered Chamberlins letter, [33]  – but I had no heart to reply to his.

Booza [34]  may throw light upon Paraguay, & the course of the Spanish Moors.



* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In July 1809, Southey was informed by Richard Sharp that the stewardship of the Derwentwater Estates (which were owned by Greenwich Hospital) would soon become vacant on the death of the incumbent. Southey asked several friends to intercede on his behalf for the position, including Humphrey Senhouse and George Beaumont, but in the end it was considered unsuitable for him; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 August 1809, Letter 1669. BACK

[2] The politician Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave (1755–1831; DNB). BACK

[3] William Dickinson (1771–1837), a pupil at Westminster School, who later went on to Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1793, MA 1795). He was Civil Lord of the Admiralty 1804–1806. BACK

[4] Louis Dutens (1730–1812; DNB), a French Protestant, held the post of Historiographer Royal until his death on 23 May 1812. Southey’s campaign for the post proved unsuccessful and it was given to James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB). BACK

[5] Giovanni Ignazio Molina (1740–1829), Compendio della Storia Geografica, Naturale, e Civile del Regno del Chile (1776). An American edition appeared as A Geographical, Natural, and Civil History of Chili in 1808. BACK

[6] The English edition of this work was published in London in 1809, entitled Geographical, Natural and Civil History of Chile: Translated from the Italian. BACK

[7] The Edinburgh bookseller Robert Miller (dates untraced), one of several partners with Ballantyne in publications at this time. BACK

[8] Longman published Southey’s edition of Thomas Malory’s (c. 1415–1471; DNB), The Birth, Lyf, and Actes of Kyng Arthur: Of his Noble Knyghtes of the Rounde Table, they’r Merveyllous Enquestes and Aduentures ... : and in the end, Le Morte D’Arthur, with the Dolourous Deth and Departyng out of thys Worlde of them Al, in 1817. BACK

[9] Father Narciso Girbal y Barceló explored the Marañon and Ucayali rivers in 1791. His travels are serialised in the Mercurio Peruano, a journal published in Peru between 1790 and 1795. Southey had access to the twelve-volume edition Mercurio Peruano, de Historia, Literatura y Noticias Públicas que da á luz la Sociedad Academica de Amantes de Lima (1791–1795), where Girbal’s travels occupy volumes II, ff. 138–44, 241–44; III, ff. 49–66; V, ff. 89–123; VI, ff. 170–87; IX, ff. 2–18; XI, ff. 276–91. BACK

[10] Joseph Skinner (dates unknown), Present State of Peru: Comprising its Geography, Topography, Natural History, Mineralogy, Commerce, the Customs and Manners of its Inhabitants, the State of Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts, the Modern Travels of the Missionaries in the Heretofore Unexplored Mountainous Territories (1805). Girbal y Barceló’s travels feature on p. 440. BACK

[11] John Allen (1771–1843; DNB), a political and historical writer, expert on Spanish affairs, who was part of the Holland House set around Lord Holland. BACK

[12] Solreviela y Girba (dates unknown), responsible for the map published in the Mercurio Peruano of the Ucayali River in Peru, the main headwater for the Amazon River. BACK

[13] The second volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1817) contained Arrowsmith’s Map of Brazil and Paraguay with the Adjoining Countries. BACK

[14] Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), Dictionnaire Historique et Critique, the first edition of which was published 1695–1697. BACK

[15] Louis Moréri (1643–1680), Le Grand Dictionnaire Historique (1732). No. 1917 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[16] Nicolas Durand, Sieur de Villegagnon (1510–1571) a Commander of the Knights of Malta and later a French naval officer. BACK

[17] John Pinkerton (1758–1826; DNB), editor of A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in all Parts of the World (1808–1814), a New Modern Atlas (1808–1809). Pinkerton cites Molina (for whom see note 6 above) on Chile throughout the chapter on Spanish possession in South America in Modern Geography (1803 and 1807). BACK

[18] James Playfair (1738–1819; DNB), System of Geography, Ancient and Modern (1808–1814). BACK

[19] Bartholomew Facius (before 1410–1457), author of biographies of writers, painter and statesmen. BACK

[20] The thirteen volume history of Italian literature by Giraloma Tiraboschi (1731–1794), Storia della Letteratura Italiana (1777–1786), no. 2859 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[21] Jacobus de Voragine (in Italian: Giacomo da Varazze or Jacopo da Varazze; c. 1230–1298) was the Archbishop of Genoa and chronicler of the Legenda Aurea (or Golden Legend), a collection of the lives of the saints of the medieval church. Many manuscript copies were made of this work and after the invention of printing in 1450 many editions were published in Latin as well as every major European language. BACK

[22] Another name for the Holy Grail, from the Old French ‘Saint Graal’. It makes its appearance in Arthurian legend between the late-twelfth century and mid-thirteenth century, and features in Thomas Malory’s (c. 1415–1471; DNB) Le Morte D’Arthur (1485) published by William Caxton (c. 1415–1492). BACK

[23] Probably the work of the twelfth-century author, Chrétien de Troyes, who wrote a series of Arthurian romances, including Le Conte del Graal (or ‘The History of the Grail’). BACK

[24] Southey’s edition of Malory’s The Birth, Lyf, and Actes of Kyng Arthur: Of his Noble Knyghtes of the Rounde Table, they’r Merveyllous Enquestes and Aduentures ... and in the end, Le Morte D’Arthur, with the Dolourous Deth and Departyng out of thys Worlde of them Al was published by Longman in 1817. BACK

[25] Joseph Hardcastle (1752–1819; DNB), merchant and evangelical, who held the position of Treasurer for the Missionary Society (renamed the London Missionary Society in 1818) for twenty years from its inception in 1795, and wrote many of the society’s documents as well as frequently chairing meetings of its Board of Directors (DNB). BACK

[26] The London Missionary Society sent one of their members, William Ellis (1794–1872; DNB) to Madagascar in 1853, but entry was refused him several times, until 1861, when, despite its troubled political situation, his four year visit laid the foundations for Christianity in the island. BACK

[27] Étienne de Flacourt (1607–1660), a French governor of Madagascar whose Histoire de la Grande Isle Madagascar was published in 1661. Southey’s copy was no. 938 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[28] The French doctor, traveller and writer Charles Dellon (1650–1710) published Relation d’un Voyages des Indes Orientales (1685) and Nouvelle Relation d’un Voyages fair aux Indes Orientales (1699); Southey owned a three-volume edition of 1709, no. 814 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[29] No. 2363 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Claude-Barthélemy Morisot (1592–1662), Relations Veritables et Curieuses de l’Isle de Madagascar et du Bresil, et Histoire des Derniers Troubles du Bresil (1651). BACK

[30] Southey was hoping that books he required from Lisbon could be supplied either by John Bell, or Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821) a wealthy Lisbon merchant, the father-in-law of Henry Herbert Southey. BACK

[31] Possibly Thomas Chamberlain (d. 1828), Major in the 24th Foot Regiment. BACK

[32] Lord John Fitzroy (1785–1857), attaché at the British Embassy in Lisbon and son of Augustus, 3rd Duke of Grafton (1735–1811; DNB) Prime Minister 1768–1770. BACK

[33] This letter does not appear to have survived. BACK

[34] Felipe Bauzá y Cañas (1764–1834), hydrographer to the Spanish navy and a friend of Arrowsmith. BACK