2143. Robert Southey to Richard Heber, 7 September 1812

2143. Robert Southey to Richard Heber, 7 September 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Sept. 7. 1812

My dear Sir

I have had two copies of the Valeroso Lucideno [1]  sent me, each in a remarkable manner. One lent me by Mr Stuart while acting as Envoy at Lisbon, [2]  – but it seems he was not well acquainted with the best means of sending a dispatch, for xxx <he> put the book into the post & it reached Longman with a charge of sixteen guineas for postage. It does not spoil the story to my feelings when I add that Mr Freeling strained the laws so far as to take off fifteen, & leave me the book for one.

The other copy came as a dispatch ought to do, thro the Foreign Office. It was sent me by order of the Conde dos Arcos, as Director of the Public Library at Bahia, together with a copy of Anchietas grammar. [3]  The grammar was given me, – the Lucideno is to be returned, & is now packed up for return the voyage, with a copy of the quarto Madoc [4]  as an acknowledgement for this extraordinary act of liberality in the Governor General of Bahia & the Public Library to an English & heretical author.

I have both the old & new edition of Hubbards narrative. [5]  Both the other books would be serviceable to my intended poem. [6]  So especially would Stiles’s History of the Three Judges, [7]  & Josselyns N England rareties. [8]  Josselyns two voyages I have. [9] 

I have the three books by Sousa de Macedo, Fonseca, & Vasconcellos. [10] 

Of all treasures Valentyn [11]  will now be the greatest to me, for it will no longer be a sealed book. I have made myself a tolerable Dutchman, & you never can have parted with a duplicate copy to one who will value it more, or make more use of it. – May I ask you to spare me also one of your many copies of Acosta? [12]  – Valentyn will be of use to me both for the Quarterly & the Register, – I wished for it while writing the chapter upon Mascarenhas & Mauritius, & shall be glad to have it at hand when the capture of Batavia is to be related. [13] 

Since the Register for 1810 was finished I have been rambling abroad & idling about home, – in the enjoyment of something like holyday leisure. You will soon see my Omniana, or Horæ Otiosiores. [14]  In the hope that Coleridge would have thus turned some of his stores to account I let him put in several articles, thinking to have extended it to four volumes, but as he has stopt short, more suo, [15]  I am rather sorry that this thing of scraps is not wholly my own. You will also soon see that Quarterly sketch of Nelsons life, expanded to a little volumes, – designed as a xx xxxxx xx midshipmans manual. [16]  – My New-England poem [17]  is not yet begun, – Pelayo must be finished first, & Pelayo I believe must change its name to Roderick, the Last of the Goths. [18]  In this I have made good progress in my slow way. I thought to have taken a three months spell at the history of Brazil, [19]  which have carried me far towards the end of the work, but Ballantyne calls for an earlier publication of the next years Register, & if I can compleat my portion, there can be no excuse for delaying there any other department. It will not surprize me if this work should not extend beyond a fourth volume. In Scotland it sells well, but the other An: Registers have possession of the London market, & the London Booksellers, I suspect, set their faces against this as an interloper. – Ballantyne thinks it of the greatest importance to publish as early as April, – I do not think this can make much difference in the sale. If the work be discontinued I shall lose a favourite employment.

You gave me some hopes of seeing you in the North this year. I wish you were now on your way, for our Keswick wonder, the floating Island [20]  made its appearance eight & forty hours ago. I have written to Davy to tell him this, but my letter has to find its way to him heaven knows where. If it reach him [MS obscured] convenient distance I think he will not let the opportunity pass of endeavouring to explain the phenomenon.

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Richard Heber Esqr/ Elliots Brewery/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 10 SE 10/ 1812
Seal: Red wax; design illegible
Watermark: Crown/ 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Eng. Lett. d. 215. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: R. H. Cholmondeley, The Heber Letters, 1783–1832 (London, 1950), p. 247 [in part]. BACK

[1] Manuel Calado do Salvador (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648), a first-hand account of northern Brazil during the period of Dutch rule in 1630–1654. BACK

[2] Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal and Brazil 1810–1814. BACK

[3] Marcos de Noronha e Brito, Conde dos Arcos (1771–1828), Governor General of Bahia 30 September 1810–26 January 1818. He had sent a copy of José de Anchieta (1534–1597), Arte de Grammatica da Lingoa mais Usada na Costa do Brasil (1595). This was no. 1530 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, inscribed by him: ‘This singularly rare and curious book was sent to me from the Public Library of Bahia de Todos, or Santos, by desire of the Conde des Arcos, then Governor of that Captaincy.’ BACK

[4] The 1805 edition of Madoc. BACK

[5] William Hubbard (1621/2–1704), Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New England (1677) and A Narrative of the Indian Wars in New-England (1803); nos 1385 and 1266 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] ‘Oliver Newman’, left unfinished at Southey’s death. The ‘other books’ were probably Cotton Mather (1663–1728), Magnalia Christi Americana, or the Ecclesiastical History of New England from 1620 to 1698 (1702); no. 1904 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; and A Brief History of the War with the Indians in New-England (1676), by Increase Mather (1639–1723), the father of Cotton Mather. Southey had asked Heber about these books in his letter of 9 April 1811, Letter 1900. BACK

[7] Ezra Stiles (1727–1795), History of the Three Judges of King Charles I (1794). Southey obtained a copy, no. 2552 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[8] John Josselyn (c. 1608–1704?; DNB), New-England’s Rarities (1672). Southey obtained a copy, no. 1531 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[9] John Josselyn, Account of Two Voyages to New-England (1674), no. 1531 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Antonio de Sousa de Macedo (1606–1682), Lusitania Liberata ab injusto Castellanorum Dominio Restituta (1645), no. 2648, in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Francisco da Fonseca (1668–1738), Embayxada do Conde de Villarmayor Fernando Telles da Sylva de Lisboa a corte de Vienna (1717), no. 3400 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s Library; and Simao de Vasconcellos (1596–1671), either Chronica de Companhia de Jesu do Estado do Brasil (1663) or Vida do Vener. Padre Joseph de Anchieta do Brasil (1672), nos 3798–3799 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] François Valentyn (1666–1727), Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (1724–1726); no. 2892, in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. An eight-volume history of the Dutch East India Company and the Far East, it contained over 1000 illustrations, including some of the most accurate maps of the Indies available at the time of its publication. BACK

[12] José de Acosta (1539–1600), Jesuit missionary and naturalist. It is not clear precisely which of Acosta’s works Southey was asking for, but it was probably Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias (1590). Southey later owned a copy, no. 3220 in the sale catalogue of his Library. BACK

[13] ‘Conquest of the Spice Islands, and the Isles of Mascarenhas and Mauritius’, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 282–300; and ‘Capture of Batavia’, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 202–210. British forces had captured Mauritius from the French on 3 December 1810 and Batavia from the Dutch in August 1811. BACK

[14] Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores (1812). BACK

[15] i.e. ‘In his usual manner’. BACK

[16] The Life of Nelson (1813), a two-volume expansion of an article on ‘Lives of Nelson’, Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 219–262. BACK

[17] i.e. ‘Oliver Newman’. BACK

[18] The poem was published under this new title in 1814. BACK

[19] History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[20] The Floating Island is a mass of underwater vegetation which rises to the surface of Derwentwater when marsh gases become trapped in it. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)