3273. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 22 March 1819

3273. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 22 March 1819 ⁠* 

I have had a New-Englander here, lately from Lisbon. He tells me that the Academy have published two more volumes of the Chronicas Inedites, [1]  the most Irish title xxx surely that ever was affixed to a book. – Your opposite neighbour Ant: Ribeiro dos Santos [2]  died last year; – Muller [3]  also is dead. Muller it seems has translated that paper of mine upon Portugueze literature in the second number of the Q.R. added some notes to it, & printed it at Hamburgh, for private distribution in Portugal; [4]  – in his official capacity he must have prohibited it. If I could have foreseen this the sketch should not have been so imperfect. –Some of the Portugueze have xxxxxxxxxx <I hear> spokex of my Brazil [5]  with great interest, wondering how the materials could possibly have been collected, & expressing a great desire that it should be finished. – They will wonder much more when they see the last volume. My xxx <visitor> saw a good deal of John Bell, but little of the other English. – Verdier [6]  is living in a garret at Paris, without his family, poor, & broken-hearted.

This is the third New Englander [7]  who has visited me within twelve months (– I had met xxxx this <one> indeed at Paris,) – & two of them are by far the most accomplished & intelligent travellers whom I have ever fallen in with. This one is now returning home, after a four x years absence, during which time he has been living in the best society that France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal & England could afford boast. Another of them is gone to Greece, meaning to visit Jerusalem & Egypt, & probably to return by way of Constantinople & Moscow. They have been buying books largely. One of them has sent home 1000 volumes from Spain, among them a good Catalan collection. Madrid it seems is now the only place where books are to be found. There are none at Seville, nor at Cadiz. – <nor at Zaragoza – nor at Barcelona.> And Lisbon which was so good a place in our days has been drained xxxx by English purchasers. The famous archives of Simancas [8]  have at last been put in order, & all the American papers regularly arranged, from Columbus’s first commission. [9]  Among these a very interesting document has come to light. xx A petition from Cervantes for a place in the America, [10]  with a detailed account of sus servicios [11]  at great length. – Montserrat [12]  he tells me is in no respect comparable to Cintra for beauty, or singularity. I was glad to hear this. – A masterly edition of the Fuero Juzgo [13]  has been published. I know a channel by which I can send for this – & by the same means I shall endeavor to get a catalogue list of their new publications. – The south of Spain is dreadfully unsafe. In many parts there is no travelling without an escort.

When I come to you at Worting, if you could get your Church supplied for one Sunday, I should very much like to go round the Isle of Wight with you. Starting from thence, it would be an easy excursion.

You have extracts from some Rio Almanachs – Where were those Almanachs printed? It is said in the Correio Braziliense [14]  that there was no printing press in Brazil, till one was sent from England in 1808. I rather think there would be one for printing Almanachs & Edicts, xxx though it was not used for any other purpose. My concluding chapter [15]  must be a summary view of Brazil at the time of the removal, & I shall get to it in the course of a week. What a satisfaction to be so near the end!

Your news respecting Walter Scott will be true ere long. [16]  He has received not less than fourscore thousand pounds for his writings, – & 70,000 more have lately fallen to his children by the death of his wifes brother. [17]  But I very much fear that poor Scott will not long live to enjoy his honour & his fortune. For the last two or three years he has been subject to cramps in the stomach, – a disease which has proved fatal to several of his family. My Yankee friend left him under one of these seizures. They have already in great measure broken him down so that he is said to Xx <have grown> full ten years older within the last two, & he is become quite grey, – tho a light haired man, – who had not I think a gray hair in his head four years ago, when I saw him last. I am very sorry for this. Scott is the least of a Scotchman of any of has none of the bad parts of the Scotch character. He is a warm hearted, friendly, generous creature, & Fortune for once did well when she put the <gave him the> golden pap spoon in his mouth at his birth.

I of the wooden spoon, [18]  am likely to become popular in New England by my next long poem. [19]  That poem is now in a fair way I have begun the fourth book, & always the farther I get on a journey the faster I travel. – I like the conception of the poem, – & am not dissatisfied with the execution as far as it has gone. – Love to my Aunt

God bless you


Keswick. 22 March 1819.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Worting/ Basingstoke/ Hampshire.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 25 MR 25/ 1819
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 178. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp.124–127. BACK

[1] José Correia da Serra (1750–1823), Collecçaõ de Livros Ineditos de Historia Portuguesa (1816), published by the Portuguese Royal Academy of Sciences (founded 1779), no. 3361 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] Antonio Ribeiro dos Santos (1745–1818), Professor at the University of Coimbra, historian, poet and Chief Librarian at the National Library in Lisbon. BACK

[3] Johann Wilhelm Christian Muller (1752–1814), Dutch convert to Catholicism and Royal Censor of Books. BACK

[4] Southey’s review of Extractos em Portuguez e em Inglez; com as Palavras Portuguezas Propriamente Accentuadas, para Facilitar o Estudo d’Aquella Lingoa (1808) in Quarterly Review, 1 (May 1809), 268–292. Muller translated the review as Memoria Sobre a Literatura Portugueza. Traduzida do Inglez. Com Notas Illustradoras do Texto (1809). BACK

[5] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[6] Timoteo Lecussan Verdier (1754–1831), Portuguese industrialist and literary editor, of French descent. Southey had attempted to contact him when he visited Paris in May 1817. BACK

[7] The other two New Englanders were Edward Everett and Joseph Green Cogswell (1786–1871), bibliographer and educationist. BACK

[8] The General Archive of Simancas, founded in 1540, and the first official archive of the Crown of Castile. BACK

[9] Christopher Columbus (1450/1451–1506), Italian explorer who was commissioned by the Spanish Crown to sail west across the Atlantic in 1492 and discovered America rather than Asia. BACK

[10] In a petition to the Council of the Indies, dated 21 May 1590, the writer Miguel de Cervantes (1546–1616) applied for no fewer than four vacant posts in Spanish America. He was unsuccessful. BACK

[11] ‘his services’. BACK

[12] Mountain and abbey near Barcelona. BACK

[13] Fuero Juzgo en Latin y Castellano (1815); a codex of Spanish laws issued in 1241. BACK

[14] Correio Braziliense (1808–1822), a Portuguese journal published in London, no. 3203 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] Chapter 44, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London 1810–1819), III, pp. 696–879, a review of the state of Brazil at the time the Portuguese court fled there in 1807–1808. BACK

[16] The news that Scott would be made a Baronet, as eventually happened in 1820. BACK

[17] Scott had married Charlotte Genevieve Carpenter in 1797. Her brother, Charles Carpenter (d. 1818), was Commercial Resident for the East India Company at Salem, Madras. He left the interest on his fortune of £40,000 to his wife, Isabella Carpenter, née Fraser (d. 1862), but Scott’s children, Sophia Scott (1799–1837), Walter Scott (1801–1847), Anne Scott (1803–1833) and Charles Scott (1805–1841), were to inherit the capital after her death. BACK

[18] An award given each year to the student who received the lowest third class degree at the University of Cambridge, and, hence, an award to someone who comes last. BACK

[19] Southey’s unfinished epic, set in New England. The completed sections were published after Southey’s death in Oliver Newman: A New-England Tale (Unfinished): With Other Poetical Remains (London, 1845), pp. 1–90. BACK

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 3 times)
Ticknor, George (1791–1871) (mentioned 3 times)
Hill, Catherine (1775–1848) (mentioned 1 time)
Bell, John (c. 1747–1819) (mentioned 1 time)
Everett, Edward (1794–1865) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)