3333. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 20 July 1819

3333. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 20 July 1819⁠* 

Keswick. 20 July. 1819

You probably know what my Scotch movements [1]  are to be, better than I do myself, & will direct Wm Heathcote accordingly, so that he may take this place either in his way out, or home. He shall have a hearty welcome, & I would house him if he were coming alone; – but neither he nor his fellow traveller [2]  shall have any reason to complain of a cold reception. – I am glad to hear of this history of Para; [3]  – it may very likely contain details of the expulsion, & of the first expedition up some of the great rivers – the Tapajos, Xingu &c. – I will spare no pains in preparing for a second edition, [4]  whether it be called for in my time or not; wanted at some time or other it must be. So let me have the MSS when it arrives. – Pople has not yet sent me the last sheet of the notes, with the tables of weights &c. [5]  I hope you will like the conclusion.

The life of Wesley [6]  will not have the same sure popularity & consequent sale as the Remains of Kirke White. [7]  One set of readers will be offended that I allow him any merit, – another will be equally displeased that I should find in him any fault. For the irreligious it will be too the general tenour of the book will be too devout, – for the evangelicals it will be too rational. However it will excite some curiosity & some talk; – & tho I have no expectation that it will pay me as well as half the quantity of matter would have done in Murraylemagnes Review, – the time has been much worthily employed, – & I shall be satisfied with 3 or 400 £ for my labour. The sixth sheet of the second volume is now on my desk. It will be finished in a few weeks after my return from Scotland.

Before I set out I shall finish a paper upon the Monastic Orders [8]  – the purport of which is to introduce an account of what Lady Isabella King [9]  is endeavouring to establish, – an institution for single women of the higher degree, – with all that is useful in monastic establishment, & free from all their follies & evils. – One of my favourite schemes, – if I live to set about it in earnest, is to give a History of the Monastic Orders, [10]  not in minute detail, – but selecting all which deserves to be prominent. And this I am quite certain would make one of the most amusing books that ever was written, & do more good by laying the Catholic system bare, in this country than could be done by any other mode of attacking it. I have had this in mind since I was last at Lisbon.

If Mr Croft [11]  comes in my way I shall know what to say to him, & be very civil. Burn [12]  sent me a portfolio of papers concerning that subscription

Tom has lost a cow, – & before half his hay is in a deluge is come upon us – it has been raining from an early hour on Sunday morning till this time – (two o clock, Tuesday) & tho the glass is rising, the sky looks as if it would rain all the rest of the day. We are going to dine at Leathes–Water, six miles off. [13]  The idle season is coming on, & I shall have a series of interruptions

– But I must go & dress, – or the chaise will be here. Love to my Aunt & the boys

God bless you


We are going on tolerably well. The young one thrives wonderfully


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham/ Surry.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 23 JY 23/ 1819; 10 o’Clock/ JY. 23/ 1819 F Nn
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 183. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s tour of Scotland lasted from 17 August until 1 October 1819. For his record of events, see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[2] Heathcote was touring the north of England with his friends and fellow students at Oriel College, Oxford: Arthur Perceval (1799–1853; DNB), later a clergyman and Royal Chaplain 1826–1853; and James Wentworth Buller (1798–1865), MP for Exeter 1830–1834, MP for Devon North 1857–1865. BACK

[3] When the parcel containing this work arrived Southey found it to be nothing more than another copy of Manoel Aires de Casal (1754–1821), Corografia Brazilica, ou Relação Historico-Geografica do Reino do Brazil (1817), no. 3252 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey was not, therefore, able to learn any more about the expulsion of the Jesuits from Brazil in 1759 or expeditions into the Brazilian interior. BACK

[4] A second edition of the first volume only of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) was published in 1822. BACK

[5] ‘Table of Weights, Measures, and Money’, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, p. 900; the ‘conclusion’ was Southey’s final peroration, see History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, p. 879. BACK

[6] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[7] The Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham, first published in 1807, it reached an eighth edition in 1819. BACK

[8] Southey’s review of Thomas Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817), Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. BACK

[9] Lady Isabella Lettice King (1772–1845; DNB) founded the Ladies’ Association at Bailbrook House, near Bath, in June 1816. It provided a home for orphaned gentlewomen with no income and was duly praised by Southey in his article in Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 96–101. BACK

[10] Southey never completed his ‘History of the Monastic Orders’. BACK

[11] Sir John Croft, 1st Baronet (1778–1862), member of the Croft family of merchants and port producers, scientist and British spy during the French campaign in Spain in 1810. He was one of the organisers of the relief operation for Portuguese civilians funded by the British government in 1811. BACK

[12] William Burn (1750–1821), British merchant whom Southey had met on his visits to Portugal in 1796 and 1800–1801. BACK

[13] It is not clear with whom the Southeys were dining; it might have been Thomas Stanger Leathes (c. 1778–1838) of Dale Head Hall, a member of the Stanger family who had inherited this property on Leatheswater (now part of Thirlmere) and used it as a summer home. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)