3126. Robert Southey to William Coxe, 25 April 1818

3126. Robert Southey to William Coxe, 25 April 1818 ⁠* 

Dear Sir

You were kind enough once to offer me the use of some papers respecting the expulsion of the Jesuits from South America. I am now arrived at that part of the history of Brazil, [1]  & if you will have the goodness to entrust them to me, thro our common publishers Messrs Longman, they shall be speedily & carefully returned.

I hope the Duke of Marlborough [2]  has only suspended your intention of writing the history of the Portuguese K. Joseph. [3]  Many persons will feel the same hope, but I have a peculiar interest in it; – for I shall soon be preparing an elaborate history of Portugal for the press, [4]  & even tho I should obtain access to the same documents for this portion of the work, it would be a great advantage to me to see in what manner the transactions of that reign had been viewed by an unprejudiced & judicious predecessor.

In the first volume of your Memoirs of the Spanish Bourbons p. 454. [5]  you speak as if the Spaniards had succeeded in the attempt which they made against Nova Colonia do Sacramento 1735. [6]  But the fact is that they were compelled to raise the siege, with far greater loss than they had ever before suffered in that part of the world. Charlevoix hurries over the subject, & yet says enough to show that the attempt was at once disgraceful and disastrous; [7]  – but there is a printed account of the siege by Silvestre Ferreira da Sylva, who was an officer there at the time & he states the loss of the beseigers at nearly 3000 men. [8]  Unimportant as this is in a work like yours, yet I am sure that from your love of accuracy, you will not be displeased at having an error pointed out, so easily corrected in a future edition. [9] 

I have the honour to be


with sincere respect

Yr faithful & obedient servant

Robert Southey.

Keswick. 25 Apr. 1818.


* MS: National Art Library, London, Sydney Cockerell Collection of Autograph Letters, MSL/ 195/ 696/ 343. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: C. G. Martin, ‘Robert Southey: Two Unpublished Letters’, Notes and Queries, 17 (1970), 378. BACK

[1] Chapters 40 and 42 of Southey’s History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 505–547, 603–617, dealing with the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil in 1759 and Paraguay in 1767. BACK

[2] Coxe’s Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818-1819), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

[3] Coxe did not publish a life of Joseph I (1714–1777; King of Portugal 1750–1777). BACK

[4] Southey did not complete or publish his ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[5] Coxe’s Memoirs of the Kings of Spain of the House of Bourbon, 3 vols (London, 1813), I, p. 454, no. 671 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] The city of Colonia do Sacramento, in modern Uruguay, had been beseiged by Spanish–led forces between October 1735 and September 1737. BACK

[7] Pierre Francois-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Histoire de Paraguay, 3 vols (Paris, 1756), III, pp. 156–157, no. 645 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Silvestre Ferreira da Sylva (fl. 1748), Relaçaõ do Sitio, que O Governador de Buenos Aires D. Miguel de Salcedo por no anno de 1735 à Praça da Nova Colonia do Sacramento (Lisbon, 1748), p. 105, no. 3293 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Coxe did not produce a new edition of his Memoirs of the Kings of Spain after the second edition of 1815. No doubt, he remained grateful to Southey for pointing out his error. BACK

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