3651. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 14 March 1821

3651. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 14 March 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 14 March. 1821

I blame myself for not having written to King as soon as I knew you were gone to Bristol. It did not occur to me till I received your letter, – & indeed I was not sure that you had not returned, hearing nothing of you either from Harry, or Rickman. If poor Danvers had been living, he would have been as he always was, – useful in time of need, always ready to perform any act of service & of kindness. If King had received my letter in regular time, he might have relieved you of some trouble during the last week of your stay, – a very mournful time you xxx must have past – I assure you it was often in my thoughts. [1] 

If there be one spot upon this earth that I remember with more feeling than any other, it is Ashton, [2]  such as it was forty years ago, – when those village lanes of which you speak were in their beauty. – The first time I ever rode on horseback was when you carried me thither, before you, from Bedminster. [3] 

Edward wrote me a very good letter which pleased me very much. Tell him that I shall be glad to hear from him again, whenever he is disposed to write.

The Vision [4]  arrived here yesterday. There is a provoking error on the first page, where the printer has contrived to dropx the final a in Glam Glaramara. And in the extract from Landors essay the word ac has crept in, nonsensically. [5] Landor has sent you a copy of his volume, which has found its way to me, & must wait for an opportunity of conveyance. [6] 

The Dedication was a good one, but I took an official opinion concerning its etiquette, & in conformity to that opinion, struck out the part which in the form of compliment conveyed a political & well-timed warning. [7]  The metre will probably attract notx some notice, & possibly occasion some discussion pro & con: the subject will provoke some abuse, to which I am perfectly indifferent. I do not expect that more than 500 copies will sell, but I am glad that the experiment has been made. [8]  It was my intention to have printed two Odes with it; but finding that there was no want of eking, & xxxx knowing that short lines on a quarto page would have looked ridiculous, if printed in the same type as the hexameters, I laid them aside. [9] 

Lope de Aguirre’s adventures are gone to the printer, with considerable additions, such as were necessary to make the story compleat when it appeared as a separate publication. [10]  It will form one volume like the Life of Nelson, [11]  in the small size. – Murrays printer proceeds very slowly with the history – I have corrected only 13 sheets. [12] 

The Correio Braziliense [13]  is now become an interesting work. My only hope for Portugal was that Ucalegons house [14]  might be burnt to the ground, before the flames extended there. Ferdinand [15]  I think can hardly escape death, – & Spain will be from one sea to another the seat of a Spanish civil war, which will be plusquam civile [16]  with a vengeance. What will become of Portugal I cannot conjecture, – but it appears very likely that betw the poor King between his two stools will come to the ground. [17]  To days paper brings news of the explosion at Para. [18]  The sure effect of revolution in Brazil will be to divide that country among as many ruff Artigases & Aguirres [19]  as have ability to keep a regiment of ruffians together. I do not see what can save the interior from this: – & the great maritime cities will probably run the same course as B Ayres. [20]  The end of these things I shall not live to see. But I have a good deal to say upon the prospects of Society, which I shall bring forward in my Colloquies. [21] 

Did I tell you that two translations of Roderick have been published at Paris – & a third is talked of. One of them has been sent me. [22]  If I wished to teach <show> any young poet what images & expressions in the poem had any peculiar propriety, it might be done by telling him to mark every thing which the translator had either generalized, or skipt.

We are tolerably well. I have a pitch plaister on my shoulder & arm for what they tell me is rheumatism, tho I suspected a strain. It disables me from lateral motions of with the right arm, but is not otherwise inconvenient. Our weather has been & is delightful. I shall be anxious to hear that you have recovered from your fatigue & anxiety. Love to my Aunt & the children – God bless you. RS.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham./ Surry.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: 10 o’Clock/ MR.17/ 1821 F.Nn; E/ 17 MR 17/ xxxx
Seal: black wax; arm raising aloft cross of Lorraine
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 204. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 235–237 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey’s aunt, and Herbert Hill’s half-sister, Elizabeth Tyler had died. BACK

[2] All Saints Church, Long Ashton, Somerset, was the burial place of Southey’s father and many other relations. BACK

[3] The home of Southey’s maternal grandmother, Margaret Hill, née Bradford (1710–1782). BACK

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

[5] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), p. xx; Canto 1, line 9. BACK

[6] Landor’s Idyllia Heroica Decem Phaleuciorum Unum Partim jam Primo Partim Iterum atq Tertio Edit Savagius Landor (1820), no. 1598 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), ‘Dedication’, pp. [v]–viii. The ‘Dedication’ was controversial, not only praising Britain’s victory in the war against France, but stating: ‘The same perfect integrity has been manifested in the whole administration of public affairs’ (vi); not a view the Whig opposition endorsed. However, the earlier draft of the ‘Dedication’, in Huntington Library, San Marino, HM 2733, shows Southey had intended to go much further and urge that ‘adequate remedy should be applied to that intolerable licentiousness of the press … either by the vigorous application of existing laws or by the enactment of such new ones as the suspension of the abuse may render necessary’. Southey cut out these references after consulting Bedford and Herries. BACK

[8] The first edition of A Vision of Judgement (1821) only consisted of 500 copies; Longman did not produce a second edition. BACK

[9] ‘The Warning Voice. Ode I’ and ‘The Warning Voice. Ode II’, the New Year’s Odes for 1820 and 1821, were not published until they appeared in The Englishman’s Library: Comprising a Series of Historical, Biographical and National Information (London, 1824), pp. 381–389. BACK

[10] Southey’s The Expedition of Orsua; and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821), originally intended to be part of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) and first published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), i–l. BACK

[11] The Expedition of Orsua (1821) was printed in duodecimo, like the second edition of Southey’s Life of Nelson (1814). BACK

[12] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832), printed by Thomas Davison (1766–1831). BACK

[13] London-based liberal journal Correio Braziliense (1808–1822). Southey owned a complete set, no. 3203 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[14] Ucalegon was an elder of Troy, whose house was set on fire by the Greeks, Virgil (70–19 BC), Aeneid, Book 2, lines 311–312. The term became a common way of referring to a neighbour whose house was on fire – in this case, Portugal’s neighbour, Spain. BACK

[15] Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). After an army revolt in January 1820, he had accepted the liberal Constitution of 1812 and was at this time virtually a prisoner. BACK

[16] ‘more than civil’. BACK

[17] John VI (1767–1826; King of Portugal 1816–1826) had fled to Brazil following the French invasion of 1807. A liberal revolution in Portugal in August 1820 led to demands for his return to Europe to which he eventually acquiesced in July 1821. This led ultimately to Brazil’s declaration of independence in 1822. BACK

[18] The liberal revolution in Portugal produced a number of sympathetic military revolts in Brazil; one in the Province of Para was reported in The Times, 13 March 1821. BACK

[19] José Gervasio Artigas (1764–1850) had fought to create a Uruguayan state independent of Argentina and Brazil in 1816–1820; Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510–1561) had tried to create an independent state in Peru. However, Brazil did not disintegrate when it became independent in 1822. BACK

[20] Argentina was in a constant state of warfare and tension between centralists, based in Buenos Aires, and federalists from outlying provinces. BACK

[21] Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829). BACK

[22] Translations of Southey’s Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) by Pierre Hippolyte Amillet de Sagrie (1785–1830), Roderic, Dernier Roi des Goths (1821), no. 2700 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library and Antoine André Brugière, Baron de Sorsum, Roderick, le Dernier des Goths (1820), no. 2697 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey had been sent the first of these translations. The third translation was probably the material relating to Roderick in Abel Hugo (1798–1855), Romances Historiques Traduites de l’Espagnol (Paris, 1822), pp. 1–32. BACK

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