953. Robert Southey to [Barbara] Seton [fragment], [13 June 1804]

953. Robert Southey to [Barbara] Seton [fragment], [13 June 1804] ⁠* 

                   .                    .                    .                     Send me your address in London & I will give you the Wars of Granada – that is, the first part which is the only Romance – for the second is by another author, is historical & has no decent poetry. [1]  The copy was destined for you – if ever you should be found to claim it. The only history of Portugal which is complete is in French, 10 Vol. duodecimo by La Clede, a worthless book, but the best. [2]  The Universal History  [3]  might serve your purpose with less trouble. I have travelled hard in mine & could show you such tales to the honour & glory of Portugal as would do your heart good. My Uncle is always upon the hunt for materials for me, & I give to them whatever time is not employed in working for ways & means.                    .                    .                    .                     But even such interruptions as this have not prevented me from making very considerable progress in the history. [4]  The whole that is done may amount to about three honest quartos, & this brings down the narrative to the middle of Emmanuel’s reign [5]  in the straight order of things – for much which relates to the Spanish usurpation, an after period, is also done. In this also is included nearly a volume of the Asiatic history. The work when done will thus be divided. Portugal strictly so called – i.e., in Europe with the African wars – 3 Vols. The Conquests in Asia – 2. Brasil, a smaller one – perhaps to be included in some other volume. The Literary History of Spain & Portugal 2, & a history of the introduction, progress & exterpation of Xtianity in Japan 1. Besides this it is my intention to make a tour thro the northern provinces of Portugal, & then publish an account of all that I know concerning Portugal as it now is, thus compleating my business & leaving to the world the fullest account of any country, that ever any individual attempted. For this last work I look to your drawings as assistants. It will be long before it will be prudent to print any part of this mighty labour – for such it may well be called. Long before that time I trust you & I shall meet & you shall see with what true love I have chronicled the old worthies of the world.                   .                    .                    .                      [6] 

The History of Portugal relates nothing that is honourable to England, except the high respect with which every thing relating to that country was regarded under the glorious reign of Edward III, [7]  and the odour of chivalry which so long survived the worth of the Plantagenets.


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from two fragments published in Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, ‘Robert Southey and Miss Seton’, Times Literary Supplement, no. 1868 (20 November 1937), p. 896. Southey’s letters to Seton were advertised for sale in Kyrle Fletcher’s catalogue no. 57. Their purchaser and current location is unknown.
Dating note: the dating is Fletcher’s. BACK

[1] No. 3403 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Ginés Pérez de Hita (1544?–1619?), Historia de los Vandos de los Cegries, y Abercerrages, Cavalleros Moros de Granada, i las Guerras Civiles que Huvo en Ella, Hasta que el Rey D. Fernando V, la Gano (1731–1733). In the preface to his translation, Chronicle of the Cid (1808), Southey declared the Moorish romances collected in this work to be superior to all others. BACK

[2] Southey owned Nicholas de La Clède (1700–1736), Histoire Generale de Portugal (1735), no. 612 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[3] Southey owned the Universal History, Ancient and Modern, from the Earliest Account of Time to the Present, published in 26 volumes (1740–1765), no. 2888 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[4] Southey’s projected ‘History of Portugal’, which he never published. BACK

[5] Manuel I (1469–1521, King of Portugal 1495–1521). BACK

[6] Kyrle Fletcher notes that Southey gives Seton ‘information about the dress of the Dominicans of Batalha, probably for an illustration’. BACK

[7] Edward III (1312–1377, King of England 1327–1377; DNB). BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)