3566. Robert Southey to Richard Heber, 25 November 1820

3566. Robert Southey to Richard Heber, 25 November 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 25 Nov. 1820

My dear Sir

I trust by this time that you have received certain books of yours, which had been some time in my possession, & of which I have made considerable use. They are all with which you had entrusted me, three excepted which I still retain, viz. Sir T. More’s works, [1]  – Lope de Vega’s Peregrino en su Patria, [2]  & the Restauracion de S. Salvador by Tamaio de Vargas. [3]  From the first I have a great many extracts to make, & the last will speedily be required for improving the H. of Brazil, the first volume being far advanced in its reimpression. [4]  As I have made some material additions as well as many minor ones, the additions & corrections will be printed seperately for those who possess the first edition. – The Peregrino I detain for an idle day, when I may insert an abstract of its contents in the old reviewal of Lord Hollands Life of the author. [5] 

Have you the History of Venezuela by Oviedo y Baños? [6]  I am in search of it, for the purpose of printing in a little volume by itself that account of Lope de Aguirre, which was originally intended for a chapter in the H. of Brazil, but was printed in the Ed: Ann: Register [7]  & I have learnt from Humboldt that this book contains facts & documents which are not in the earlier writers. [8]  I have sought for it in vain at Holland House, & from Gooden & Murdoch; [9]  you are more likely to possess it, & if you have it not, I must give up the search in despair, unless there be any means of getting at Mirandas books, among which it would certainly be. [10]  – You will not confound this author with the earlier Oviedo. [11] 

You will have heard that I am preparing for a Life of George Fox, an intention which has already excited some sensation throughout Quakerdom. [12]  It is a curious subject & has wide ramifications. The introductory chapter will contain a view of religious dissentions in England, & their consequences, from the rise of the Lollards, to the days of G. Fox.

In the course of a few weeks I shall send you a bold experiment in metre, – a poem in English hexameters, [13]  which your brother saw at Llangedwin in the spring, which has lain by <me> to digest & which I am now on the point of compleating & sending to the press.

believe me my dear Sir

with many thanks for many kindnesses

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Richard Heber Esqre/ Pimlico Lodge
Stamped: Two Py Post/ Unpaid/ [illegible]
Postmark: 2 o’Clock/ 28 NO/ 1820 A.Nn
Endorsement: Southey
Seal: red wax, design illegible
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 215. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An edition of the writings of Sir Thomas More (1478–1535; DNB), which Southey required for his Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829). BACK

[2] Lope Felix de Vega Carpio (1562–1635), El Peregrino en su Patria (1604). Southey later acquired editions of 1618 (no. 3672 in the sale catalogue of his library) and 1733 (no. 3762 in the sale catalogue of his library). BACK

[3] Tomás Tamaio de Vargas (1588–1641), Restauración de la Ciudad de Salvador y Bahía de Todos los Santos en Brasil (1628). Southey later owned two editions, nos 3747 and 3748 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[4] A second, revised edition of the first volume only of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) appeared in 1822. BACK

[5] Southey had reviewed Lord Holland, Some Account of the Lives and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio, and Guillen de Castro (1817) in the Quarterly Review, 18 (October 1817), 1–46. BACK

[6] José de Oviedo y Baños (1671–1738), Historia de la Conquista y Población de la Provincia de Venezuela (1723); Southey later (after the publication of The Expedition of Orsua (1821)), obtained a copy, no. 3605 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[7] Southey’s The Expedition of Orsua; and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821), first published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), i–l. BACK

[8] Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent During the Years 1799–1804, 6 vols (London, 1814–1826), IV, pp. 257–260, published a letter from Aguirre that had been ‘printed for the first time’ in José de Oviedo y Baños, Historia de la Conquista y Población de la Provincia de Venezuela (Madrid, 1723), pp. 206–209. BACK

[9] Possibly John Murdoch (1747–1824; DNB), teacher, translator and authority on French literature and language. BACK

[10] Sebastian Francisco de Miranda y Rodriguez de Espinoza (1750–1816), Venezuelan revolutionary. He had lived in England prior to 1806 and married his housekeeper, Sarah Andrews (1774–1847). BACK

[11] Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo (1478–1557), author of Historia General y Natural de las Indias (1535). BACK

[12] The plan was to follow his controversial The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820) with a similar study of George Fox (1624–1691; DNB), founder of the Society of Friends. Southey had wanted to keep this under wraps, but news leaked out via his friend Mary Calvert, née Mitchinson (dates unknown), who had been born a Quaker. It was greeted with some concern, occasioning letters from Quakers and a visit from Elizabeth Fry (1780–1845; DNB), the Quaker philanthropist and prison reformer; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 27 October 1820, Letter 3544. Their alarm was groundless, as Southey’s life of Fox was not written. BACK

[13] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Holland House (mentioned 1 time)