1476. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 9 July 1808

1476. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 9 July 1808 ⁠* 

I copy the whole which Brito Freyre [1]  says of Tamandaré.

Surtas estavaō as mais & as melhores embarcaçoēs na Costa do Recife; porque em Tamandaré, ao entrar dos primeiros, hum pataxo (salvo a gente & a carga) se perdeo sem desculpa. pelo descudo do governo; que o porto pela capacidade do fundo, a todos os de Parnambuco se aventaja. Ainda que por ficar muito distante das povoaçoēs, he pouco frequentado dos navegantes. Felo ja conhecido, a perda que nelle receberaō dos Olandeses, os navios governados de Jeronymo Serraō de Payva. E agora elegerem – no para as tres Frotas se incorporarem com x a Armada. – O que puderaō facilitar menos, aquelles Ministros & Pilotos nomeados na carta que V. Magestada mandon escrever a Francisco de Brito. Que suposto a barra & surgidouro tenhaō agoa bastante para Galleoēs de alto bordo, era preciso & muito difficultoso, esperarmos depois que houvesse terral, onde o há raras vezes. ou sahirem ás toas larga distancia, huma por huma, tantas embarcaçoēs juntas & carregadas. Pelo que entre as mais que ancoraraō na Costa: ancoron tambem o General. – Porem, quando ja podia ser menos a tardança do Almirante, para evitale depois & nos incorporarmos em elle parecendo, se mandon tirar a Francisco Freyre, os navios de Tamandaré. Rapetiolhes perluxas toas; & percedendo trabalho & dilaçaō, cada hum por sy, os poz de fora a todos, pela memoria do passado, com mais receyo que perigo.

This is the other passage – Receaō muito os Pilotos apartaremse dos rumos costumados, porque quando erraō com os mais tem vulgar a desculpa; & quando acertaō por sy mesmos, naō ganhaō mayor premio. A este resperto, se chegaō sempre a Costa de Ethiopia, chamada de Guinè geralmente. Seguraō a viage no veraō daquella altura, porque correm os ventos de Leste para o Norte, & pelo contrario para a Sul no univerno. Como tinha achado Francisco de Brito, passando do Algarve a Bahia no anno de 1652. Agora persuadido tambem do mais que lhe ensinon D Fr. de Faro, Conde de Odemira, dos Conselhos de Estado & Guerra, & Presidente em o Ultramarino, procuron lhe mandasse, V. M. declarar no Regimento de suas Reaes Ordēs que de Caboverde governasse ao Sul. [2] 

This last extract is of little importance, as the course which he recommends has I suppose, long been followed. But Tom, of whom I used to enquire about such matters, is no longer at my elbow. He has been summoned away by an appointment to the Dreadnought, & has by this time joined her off Brest. She is a 98. & Admiral Sotheby has her, – brother to that Sotheby on whom we called, [3]  – & who was complimented in the Anti-Jacobine Review as – ‘not being the Jacobine Poet, but a very respectable Gentleman’. [4]  I am upon very courteous terms with him, & he once brought the Admiral to call on me; – so that for a chance appointment this happens to be a xxx desirable one.

I had quite done with the Noticias, [5]  as you may perceive by the few marks which are not crost off. Vasconcellos & Rocha Pitta [6]  both had this M.S. & both overlooked some things of importance, which are not to be found elsewhere. Some trifling errors in it are corrected by the Mem. of S Vincente. [7]  Fr Gaspar is a pioneering Gentlemans-Magazine-sort of author, & has committed some errors himself for want of reading my friend Hans Stadt. [8] 

The best account of the Almogavares is in Desclot – the Catalan. [9]  I have added a supplementary note about them from him & Moncada. [10]  The Partidas [11]  have supplied me with many curious notes, of which, as usual, I have made as many again as there was room to insert: but these works of supererogation turns to account some time or other. The Comercio Antiguo de Barcelona is with you. [12]  The History of that country would throw great light upon the middle ages; – & if the book were here, it would perhaps tempt me to bestow more time upon it than can well be spared.

It will be best perhaps to prefix to each volume an account of the materials from which it has been made: – & you may insert B. Freyres history in the portion when it reaches you. I shall send off the seven chapters next week, – a blinding & excoriating cold is now wearing off after a three weeks spell, & leaves me once more able to do my daily work. – The first vol. will hardly finish the Dutch War, & yet will go hard upon it. Those Mem. of S Vincente mention one or two books which I never before heard of, – but if Lisbon be recovered, as I suppose it must be, we might perhaps procure them thro John Bell, & also that life of Almeida by Vasconcellos, [13]  which is likely to be the most curious of his works, because it is the first of them, in which he would naturally set down what was most remarkable concerning the natives, & to which he refers for many particulars about them. – I wish we had the works of Ulloa [14]  & Gumilla, [15]  & Dobrizhoffer de Abipponibus, [16]  for which vain enquiry was made in London. I shall be glad to see what you can send me of Faulkener, when you have an opportunity of sending it. [17]  It is a curious point to ascertain how far certain customs extended, & certain languages. Patagonia is also interesting because of its giants, – who ought to be of different race from any other people in S. America. Do you find mention in him of an animal as big as a horse with a neck like the cameleopard? Such an animal is represented in one of the prints to the voyage of Le Maire & Schowtens [18]  – & both Capt Burney & I, judging from every thing else in those prints believe it to be the real representation of some nondescript beast. – What became of Faulkener? [19]  – for I shall like to tell all that is known of him. A Catholick at Norwich told me that the Jesuits still exist as a body in England, – & pointed out one to me in the street. My informer is a leading & very zealous man among them, – but they had not trusted him, – & he knew nothing more than this.

Frere I suppose is to be addrest as the Rt. Honble. – but what is his christian name? The papers say he is going to Spain, – if so I shall not get his translations, – & you will lose a friend at court, who might be of use if he would but exert himself. [20]  – I have been a true prophet with regard to Spain.

Joanna Baillie [21]  has been here, & drank tea with us, – a lively, good-humoured unaffected woman. I was very glad of the opportunity of seeing her. – From some other chance lakers I hear that the eldest Miss Hammet [22]  who was, – is dying of consumption at Falmouth, – or more probably dead, – there being no hope.

The great Barlœus [23]  may at any time be sent you, because I have a small edition. There are parts of his prints which would add much to the value of a book if given as head & tail-pieces. I cannot learn whether the previous history of the Dutch in Brazil by Jan de Laet [24]  – to which he alludes, was ever published: from his words I should conclude that certainly it was, but my G. Biography does not mention any such work. – The account of the coast I should think had better be comprest into as small a compass as possible, the state of the <various> harbours will not be of importance to us for many many years. It is only there where there are considerable towns, which our ships will frequent, – the rest will be supplied with our commodities by country vessels. It is well to indicate them all, but a separate work concerning them would meet with very few purchasers. This subject will form xx a fit chapter in a volume of statistic history. – I have got thro the dullest part of the Dutch War & brought over Mauritz, [25]  – a great man, & worthy to have been the founder of a great empire. Of what was the promised second part of the Castriots Lusitens [26]  to have treated? What more has Joam Fernandez Vieyre [27]  done? or had he engaged Fr. Rafael the Bombastick [28]  to second his exploits, – before he atchieved them? – There is a Valeroso Lucideno  [29]  upon this subject, – but I have materials enough for a history so devoid of every thing beautiful.


July 9. 1808.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ L. B. Wxxxx Esqre [deletions and the remainder of the address in another hand]/ Staunton upon Wye/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford/ Baxxxxx/ Hereford; [second address/ endorsement in another hand] The/ Rev
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298; [partial] BASING
Postmarks: [twice] JY/ B/ 18/ 1808
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Francisco de Brito Freyre (1625–1692), Nova Lusitania, Historia da Guerra Brasilica (1675). BACK

[2] The passages from Viage da Armada da Companhia do Commercio, e Frotas do Estado do Brasil (pp. 33 and 11 respectively) translate as: ‘There are many ships anchored on the coast waiting to enter the harbour and many others waiting to exit the harbor that are already loaded, waiting, concerned about departing because the shallow canal is treacherous. One vessel, the Pataxó, tried to exit and sank. The government was ordered by the king to deepen the canal, but no action was taken even after intervention of captains and ministers named by the king in a letter to Franscico de Brito. In addition, the navigators also were aware of the loss of other Dutch vessels, governed by Jeronymo Serrão de Payva, in the recent past. Therefore, navigators are avoiding the port./ The situation is made worse because ships trapped in the harbour include three existing fleets that would not be incorporated with the armada./ The situation is angering the people of the state of the Pernambuco, as the port of Tamandaré is extremely important; other ports are very far away and it represents their only means of transportation. All of the vessels, specially the bigger galleons, are waiting for the ‘terral shift’. The crisis also resulted in the dismissal of Francisco Freyre, no longer responsible for the vessels in Tamandaré, which could make the waiting situation worse for the boats, anchored at the coast (including the General’s) and also for the Almirante’s, loaded inside the harbour.// The captains were afraid to use the regular routes because when they made a mistake, an excuse was considered vulgar among the other captains; and when they steered right for themselves, they did not earn the higher premium. In this respect, they always reached the coast of Ethiopia, commonly called Guinea. In the summer, the journey was made at a specific latitude, because the winds run from the East to the North. And, on the contrary, the winds are to the south in the winter. In 1652 Francisco de Brito found these wind patterns during journeys from Algarve to Bahia. He is now even more persuaded by what was taught by D. Francisco De Faro, Count of Odemira, of the Councils of State and War. The president of the ultramarine provinces sought to inquire if your majesty would declare, in the Regiment of Royal Orders, that Caboverde governs to the south; as explained the eighth chapter of the same regiment. BACK

[3] HMS Dreadnought was a 98-gun second rate ship of the line launched in 1801. She had fought at Trafalgar (1805) and was now under the command of Rear Admiral Thomas Sotheby (1759–1831), younger brother of the author, William Sotheby (1757–1833; DNB), Southey’s acquaintance. BACK

[4] Untraced. BACK

[5] Southey several times refers in his History of Brazil to the Noticias do Brazil manuscript as a valuable source (e.g. I, p. 312). Borrowed from Hill, it was not listed in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[6] Simão de Vasconcellos (1596–1671), Vida do Vener. Padre Joseph de Anchieta, … Taumaturgo do Novo Mundo, na Provincia do Brasil (1672); Sebastião da Rocha Pita (1660–1738), Historia da America Portugeza, desde o anno 1500 ate o de 1724 (1730). BACK

[7] Fr. Gaspar da Madre de Deos (1715–1800), Memórias para a História da Capitania de São Vicente (1797). BACK

[8] Hans Staden (c. 1525-c. 1579) was a German adventurer shipwrecked off South America and captured by the Tupinambá people of Brazil. In his True History, first published in German and then, in Latin, in the collection of voyages edited by Johan Theodor and Johann Israel De Bry, Peregrinationes (1598–1613) (where Southey found it), he claimed to have witnessed cannibal feasts. BACK

[9] Bernard Desclot (13th century), Historia de CatalunnaTraducida, de fu Antiqua lengua Catalana en Romance Castellana por Raphael Cervera (Barcelona, 1616). BACK

[10] In his edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (London, 1808), Southey notes (p. 418), of the people known as Almogavares that Francisco de Moncada (?-d. 1635) ‘in his Expedition de los Catalanes y Araguneses (1623), f. 19, thinks the name refers rather to their origin than their customs, and that they were descended from the Avars’. BACK

[11] The Siete Partidas (Seven-Part Code) or Libro de las Leyes, a comprehensive legal code, was complied during the reign of Alfonso X (1221–1284), king of Castile, León and Galicia from 1252 until his death. No. 3610 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Las Siete Partidas del Sabio Rey Don Alonso el Nono (1789). BACK

[12] Antonio de Capmany de Montpalau (1742–1813), Memorias históricas sobre la marina, comercio y artes de la antigua ciudad de Barcelona (1779–1792). BACK

[13] Simão de Vasconcellos (1596–1671), Vida do Padre Joam d’Almeida da Companhia de Jesu, na Provincia do Brazil (1658). BACK

[14] Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Giralt (1716–1795) travelled to South America in order to compile a confidential report for the Spanish government on the state of its colonies. After the voyage he published Relación Histórica del Viaje á la América Meridional (1784). Southey owned the English version, Voyage to South America (1806), no. 2927 in the sale catalogue of his library. The report, however, remained unpublished for many years; Southey owned a presentation copy of the 1826 edition Noticias Secretas de America, sobre el Estado Naval, Militar, &c. de los Reynos del Peru y Provincias de Quito, &c. por D. Barry. He also owned his Noticias Americanas Entretenimientos Fisico-Historicos (1792). BACK

[15] José Gumilla (1686–1750), Historia Natural, Civil, & Geografica de las Naciones situadas en las Riveras del Rio Orinoco (1791). BACK

[16] Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus (1783–1784). Dobrizhoffer, a German Jesuit, worked in the village colonies into which the Jesuits gathered the Indians in Paraguay. Southey had Scott borrow a copy from the Advocates Library, Edinburgh in early 1809. BACK

[17] Thomas Falkner (1707–1784), an English Jesuit whose papers were published as A Description of Patagonia and the adjoining Parts of South America (1774). BACK

[18] Jacob Le Maire (c. 1585–1616), a Dutch mariner who with Willem Cornelisz Schouten (c. 1567–1625) circumnavigated the world, discovering a new route to the spice islands round what they named Cape Horn. The voyage narratives were published in Dutch, German and, in Latin, as Joris van Spilbergen and Jacob Le Maire, Speculum orientalis occidentalisque Indiae navigationum, quarum una Georgii à Spilbergen – altera Jacobi le Maire – directa, Annis 1614 -18: exhibens Novi in mare Australe transitus, incognitarumque hactenus terrarum ac gentium inventionem; praelia aliquot terra marique commissa, expugnationesque urbium, una cum duabus novis utriusque Indiae historiis, Catalogo munitionum Hollandicarum, ducum et reliqui bellici apparatus, tretique quatuor, suis quaeque figuris illustrata (1619) and Novi Freti, a parte meridionali freti Magellanici in Magnum Mare Australe Detectio. Diarium vel descriptio laboriosissimi et molestissimi itineris, facti a Guilielmo Cornelii Schoutenio annis 1615–17 (1619) and in English as The Relation of a Wonderfull Voiage made by Willem Cornelison Schouten of Horne. Shewing how South from the Straights of Magelan in Terra Delfuego: he found and discovered a newe passage through the great South Seaes, and that way sayled round about the world (1619). The English translation lacked the engravings of the other editions, which included a plate of what is either a llama or an alpaca. BACK

[19] July 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from South America, and Falkner returned to England and became chaplain to Robert Berkeley (1713–1804) at Spetchley Park, Worcester. He then became chaplain to the Beringtons at Winsley, Herefordshire, and the Plowdens at Plowden Hall, Shropshire, where he died (DNB). BACK

[20] Three of Frere’s translations from the Poema del Cid were appended to Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid. Frere had been Britain’s ambassador to Portugal while Southey’s uncle had lived there; from 1808–1809 he was ambassador to Spain. BACK

[21] (1762–1851; DNB), the Scottish dramatist, friend of the Aikins and of Scott. BACK

[22] Untraced. BACK

[23] Caspar Barlaeus (1584–1648), Rerum per octennium in Brasilia et alibi nuper gestarum sub praefectura (1647), a work containing many maps and charts. Southey’s library, on his death, contained an edition of 1660. BACK

[24] After Southey’s death, the sale catalogue of his library contained Johannes de Laet (1581–1649), Novus Orbis seu Descriptionis Indiæ Occidentalis (1633) and De Origine Gentium Americanarum (1642). It did not contain the work about which Southey enquires here: Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (1648). BACK

[25] Johan Maurits of Nassau (1604–1679), colonial governor who, from 1637–1644, gradually extended the Dutch possessions in Brazil. BACK

[26] Rafael de Jesus (1614–1693), Castrioto lusitano: ou, Historia da guerra entre o Brazil e a Hollanda, durante os annos de 1624 a 1654, terminada pela gloriosa restauração de Pernambuco e das capitanias confinantes (1679). BACK

[27] João Fernandes Vieira (1613–1681), a wealthy Brazilian plantation owner, led a successful rebellion against Dutch rule after Maurits had returned to Europe. He subsequently became Governor and Captain-General of the Captaincy of Paraiba (1655–1657). Later he was appointed Governor and Captain-General of Angola (1658–1661) and Superintendent of Fortifications in northeastern Brazil, from 1661 to 1681. BACK

[28] Rafael de Jesus (1614–1693), the biographer of Vieira. BACK

[29] A work celebrating the Portuguese liberation from the Dutch of its colonies in Brazil by Frei Manuel Calado do Salvador (1584–1654), O Valeroso Lucideno e Triunfo da Liberdade na Restauração de Pernambuco (1648). BACK

People mentioned