3689. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 27 May 1821

3689. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 27 May 1821⁠* 

There is an article in Lackingtons [1]  Catalogue (No 7825) which I should like you to look at, – it is a large MSS. concerning the negociation at the Treaty of the Pyrenees, [2]  in French, price two guineas, – from Dr Laurence’s collection. [3]  Portugal was so much concerned in that Treaty that I should think this MS. must be worth having, & I would have ordered it immediately only that it is better not to buy a pig in a poke, when there is any one who can be depended upon (like little Stevens) [4]  for approving the pig.

This reminds me of my Hist: of Portugal, [5]  & by that connection that Sir Ch. Stuart [6]  sent a message to me thro Henry Wynn, [7]  that he should be glad if I would return his books, if I had done with them, not saying where the single book that I have of his should be sent, nor thanking me for the Hist: of Brazil. [8]  I have only the Val: Lucideno [9]  which he sent by the post, & for which I paid one guineas postage, sixteen having been charged for it. This is not done with; – for I am using it in improving my first volume, & have to get take from it a very interesting account of the D of Braganzas mode of life at Villa Vicosa. [10]  When I have done this, which shall be at my first convenient leisure, the book shall be sent by some good opportunity to Harrys, for your farther direction. I shall not accompany it with any letter of thanks to Sir Charles, because he did not think proper to call upon me at Paris, [11]  – where I made it my first business to leave a card at his door.

The Correio Braziliense [12]  is now become an interesting work. Some of my acquaintance are in the Cortes. – Bãeta [13]  is one of the moderate party, who are for allowing a suspensive Veto as they call it to the Crown, – & the poor Coimbra Prof: of Botany of Brotero, [14]  keeps out of the way upon ticklish questions, wishing, no doubt, that he were quietly at home with his plants. I look upon the Kings return [15]  as a measure of personal safety, that he may be within reach of our protection, & perhaps of Austrian assistance. The same troops which have quieted Naples [16]  may easily be transported to Lisbon; – & at all events his life will be safe at Lisbon. The proceedings of the Cortes are like those in Spain [17]  at their first meeting, – unmethodical precipitate, metaphysical & mischievous; good intentions being frustrated by the ignorance & inexperience of those who put themselves forward, & the task of putting such a government to rights requiring abler statesmen than could possibly grow up under it. The work of demolition is likely to be very compleately done; – & if the King could find a minister like Pombal, [18]  he might build up new institutions as the new city was built, the old one having been thrown down by the earthquake. [19]  – The end of these convulsions in Spain I do not expect to live to see.

Two hundred pages of my Peninsular War [20]  are printed. – The little volume of Aguirres adventures will soon be finished, & you will have it in the course of two or three weeks. [21]  There is another episode in American history which I think of composing for the QR. ere long, – the last insurrection of the Indians under one of the Inca family, during the American war. The only account which has ever been published is in the Hist: of B Ayres by Funes. [22]  At present I am finishing a life of Oliver Cromwell for the Review. [23] Murray allows me to make use hereafter of any English lives which are written for the review, in a series of such lives for which he will pay me 500 £ per volume, the intended extent of the series being six octavo volumes. [24] 

How are you going on since the measles? We are tolerably well here, in spite of weather which is almost intolerable, considering the time of year – Love to my Aunt

God bless you


Keswick. 27 May. 1821.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Streatham./ Surrey
Stamped: KESWICK/298
Postmark: [partial] 10 o’Clock/ MY. 30/ 1821 F.; E/ xx MY xx/ 1821
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 208. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 252–254 [in part]. BACK

[1] George Lackington (1777–1844; DNB), prominent bookseller and publisher. Southey is probably referring to item 7825 in his General Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Books, for the Years 1821–2. Southey did not buy this manuscript. BACK

[2] The Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) ended the war between Spain and France 1648–1659. BACK

[3] Possibly French Laurence (1757–1809), MP for Peterborough 1796–1809, Regius Professor of Civil Law at Oxford 1796–1809. BACK

[4] Unidentified. BACK

[5] Southey’s unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[6] Sir Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal 1810–1814, Ambassador to France 1815–1824, 1828–1830, Ambassador to Russia 1841–1844. BACK

[7] Henry Watkin Williams Wynn (1783–1856), Wynn’s younger brother and Envoy Extraordinary to Saxony 1803–1806, Switzerland 1822–1823, Wurttemberg 1823–1824, and Denmark 1824–1853. BACK

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

[9] Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648). BACK

[10] Vila Vicosa was the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Braganza, who became Kings of Portugal in 1640. Southey may be referring to the remodelling of the palace under Teodosio II (1568–1630), but this passage did not appear in History of Brazil (1822), the second edition of the first volume of this work. BACK

[11] When Southey visited the city he left his card at Sir Charles Stuart’s residence on 16 May 1817. BACK

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

[13] Henrique Xavier Bãeta (1776–1854), doctor, educated at the University of Edinburgh. Deputy for Estramudura in the Portuguese Cortes elected in 1821. BACK

[14] Felix Avellar Brotero (1744–1828), Professor of Botany at the University of Coimbra. Southey had met him on 13 March 1801. Deputy for Estramudura in the Portuguese Cortes elected in 1821. BACK

[15] John VI (1767–1826; King of Portugal 1816–1826) had, under pressure from the liberal revolution of 1820, returned to Portugal from Brazil on 3 July 1821. BACK

[16] The liberal revolution of 1820 in Naples had been crushed by Austrian troops in March 1821. BACK

[17] Following army revolts in Spain, the liberal Constitution of 1812 had been restored and a newly elected Cortes met for the first time on 9 July 1820. BACK

[18] Sebastião José Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782), Prime Minister of Portugal 1750–1777. BACK

[19] Lisbon was devastated by an earthquake in 1755. BACK

[20] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[21] 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

[22] Gregorio Funes, (1749–1829), Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos-Ayres y Tucuman, 3 vols (Buenos Aires, 1816–1817), III, pp. 261–326. This dealt with the rebellion in Peru in 1780, led by José Gabriel Tupac Amaru (1742–1781), an event that was contemporaneous with the American War of Independence (1775–1783). Southey did not turn these events into a paper for the Quarterly Review. BACK

[23] Southey’s ‘Life of Cromwell’, Quarterly Review, 25 (July 1821), 279–347. BACK

[24] This project was not realised. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)