1596. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 8 March 1809

1596. Robert Southey to Herbert Hill, 8 March 1809 ⁠* 

The parcel which is on its way to you will contain Wordsworths Lyrical Ballads & Poems [1]  for Mrs H. concerning which I will only observe that good poems are not the worse for having good-for-nothing ones in company with them. [2]  It will not contain three Metrical Tales [3]  of which the stories are taken from the Chronica General, & the Nobiliario of the C. D. Pedro: – but these will reach her in a frank thro the Imperial Abbot, nearly as soon, or perhaps sooner. – I put in partly to secure your Musaeus, [4]  & partly as a thing in itself curious & very rare, a poem written by poor Beddoes, [5]  – a man for whom I had little liking, but great respect, & whose death I regard as a greater loss to mankind than that of any other individual would have been, except perhaps Davy. – In the portion of history, [6]  make any verbal alteration you <may> think needful, – & send me any remarks in a letter, – for thus we shall save the MSS the risk & delay of travelling six hundred miles: when you have examined it return it to Longman, with directions to have it delivered to the Printer. [7] Edith has had a severe & rather an alarming illness, – or this would have been sent off sooner. You will perceive that the mosaic work of the eighth chapter has been very laborious. I have much curious matter for the supplementary notes, & shall certainly bring together in this & the concluding volume more valuable facts concerning savage life, in its various stages, than have ever yet been brought within the compass of a single work. The series of the remaining chapters is thus 12. transactions in Paraguay till the final establishment of B Ayres. 13. Brazil from 1583 to the commencement of the succeeding century – including our first transactions there mercantile & predatory. 14. Expulsion of the French from I. Maranham. [8]  15. Dutch at Bahia – 16–17–18. Dutch War, & Taxeiras voyage. [9]  All these except the 13th have long since been ready for transcription, – xx <in> that I have got something to fill up. – You will see that I have found good proof in confirmation of the assertion of the Noticias [10]  that tea is indigenous in America.

Rickman tells me he has sent you the Report of the Court of Inquiry, [11]  – as he did me. – Mrs Clarke [12]  has made a more effectual diversion in favour of Bonaparte than Sir John Moore did for the Spaniards, [13]  & I am afraid our precious Ministers will be so busy in protecting the Duke that they will let the opportunity go by of crushing the French in that country, before the final conquest of Austria, [14]  – an event which I consider as certain, & no otherwise to be deplored than for the triumph which the Devil feels while he is blindly performing the work which God has appointed to him to do. In other words it is fit that the house of Austria should be destroyed tho we must regret & suffer from the immediate consequence of its destruction in the aggrandizement of France.

My defence of the Baptist Mission in the Quarterly has been good deal emasculated. [15]  Gifford has performed this work skillfully enough: – but I think it was injudicious to suppress passages which could have not have given offence to Bishop Horsely [16]  himself, & which would have manifested xxxx <that> full freedom of opinion was allowed in the Review. – Cut down however as it is I am told that it has excited notice & made considerable impression. I follow it by essays upon the South Sea & S African Missions, [17]  – & may perhaps enlarge & publish the whole collectively. – The Review is not what it should be – the spirit is as bad as that of the Edinburgh, [18]  – the taste not a whit better. I am fallen into company with whom I have no common opinions except about Spain, & the necessity of war ad interaeternam [19]  with Bonaparte: Walter Scott has written ignorantly about the Cid [20]  – the conquest of Valencia [21]  is as certain as any fact whatever in history – I suspect it will be better done in the Annual by Sharon Turner. [22]  Turners Article upon the Sanscret language is the best in the number. [23]  Ld Valencias Travels are to be sent me for this Review. [24]  – I get well-administered praise from Gifford, – flattery from the Bookseller & sweet remuneration for the article in the shape of 21£ -13 – better pay than I ever yet received for any former occupation.

What an age of conflagration! – As for the theatres the Devil is welcome to all he could find there, [25]  – & at St James’s too. [26]  But I grudge him the Hafod library [27]  & the Quadrangle at Ch. Church. [28] 


Landor desires me to present his respects to you. Next year he expects to have part of Llanthony habitable. [29] 

March 8. 1809.


* Address: To/ The Reverend Herbert Hill/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems, 2 vols (1800), Poems in Two Volumes (1807). BACK

[2] Southey had previously enquired whether Catherine Hill was interested in poetry; see Southey to Herbert Hill, 31 December 1808, Letter 1560. BACK

[3] ‘Garci Ferrandez’, published in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811), in Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works (1837–1838); ‘A True Ballad of St. Antidius, the Pope and the Devil’, published in the Morning Post, 4 February 1803, in Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and Poetical Works (1837–1838): these poems derived from Florian de Ocampo (1499?–1555?), Coronica General de Espana (1541). The third ‘metrical tale’ referred to is ‘King Ramiro’, published in September 1803 in the Morning Post and on 12 May 1804 in the Iris (edited by Taylor) and then, revised, in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, Minor Poems (1815 and 1823) and with revisions in Poetical Works (1837–1838): this poem derived from Nobiliario de D. Pedro Conde de Bracelos Hijo del Rey D. Dionis de Portugal (1640) by Afonso Pedro, Count of Barcelos (1287–1354) and Juan Bautista Labaña (1555–1624), no. 3571 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. See Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004), V, pp. xxiv and 517; 406–413. BACK

[4] Musaeus Grammaticus (fl. C. early 6th century), Hero and Leander, of which Grosvenor Charles Bedford had published a translation, The Loves of Hero and Leander in 1797. BACK

[5] Untraced. In the Annual Anthology, I (1799), 289 Southey included passages from Beddoes’ ‘Verses on Alexander’s Expedition’. BACK

[6] From Southey’s first volume of the History of Brazil (1810). BACK

[7] This did not go to plan; see Southey to the Herbert Hill, [early April 1809], Letter 1612. BACK

[8] An island in the mouth of the river Maranham. BACK

[9] Pedro Teixeira (d. 1641) was a Portuguese explorer who became, in 1637, the first European to travel up the entire length of the Amazon, an expedition which helped extend Portuguese colonial possessions there at the expense of Spain. Cristóbal de Acuña (1597–1676?), a member of Texeira’s expedition, published Nuevo Descubrimiento del Gran Río de las Amazonas (1641). BACK

[10] Southey several times refers in his History of Brazil to the Noticias do Brazil manuscript, which he borrowed from Hill. It is not listed in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[11] The ‘Report of the Board of Inquiry’ into the events leading to the Convention of Cintra came out on 27 December 1808. BACK

[12] Mary Anne Clarke (c. 1776–1852; DNB), the former mistress of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827; DNB), Commander in Chief of the army. He held the post from 1798–1809, but was forced to resign in the wake of allegations that he had profited by allowing Clarke to accept money from army officers, in return for which promotion was arranged. BACK

[13] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command of the British troops in the Iberian peninsula. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna on 16 January 1809. BACK

[14] Napoleon did indeed force Austria to sue for peace after several bloody battles in 1809. BACK

[15] Southey reviewed the Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (published from 1794); [John Scott-Waring (1747–1819; DNB)], Vindication of the Hindoos from the Aspersions of the Reverend Claudius Buchanan, M.A. With a Refutation of the Arguments Exhibited in his Memoir, on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, by their Conversion to Christianity… By a Bengal Officer (1808); Thomas Twining (1776–1861; DNB), A Letter to the Chairman of the East India Company, on the Danger of Interfering in the Religious Opinions of the Natives of India; and on the Views of the British and Foreign Bible Society, as Directed to India (1807), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[16] Samuel Horsley (1733–1806; DNB), bishop of St Asaph, anti-jacobin, moralist, supporter of proselytism. BACK

[17] Southey reviewed the Transactions of the Missionary Society in the South Sea Islands in the Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 24–61, but there are no reviews by him on the South African missions. BACK

[18] The Edinburgh Review. BACK

[19] ‘Perpetual war’. BACK

[20] Southey’s The Chronicle of the Cid (1808) was reviewed by Scott in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 117–134. BACK

[21] Valencia was conquered in 1094 after a long siege. The events are described in Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid (London, 1808), p. 203. BACK

[22] Sharon Turner reviewed Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid (1808) in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809), 91–99. BACK

[23] Sharon Turner [with John Shore, 1st Baron Teignmouth (1751–1834; DNB)] reviewed Charles Wilkins (bap. 1749–1836; DNB), A Grammar of the Sanskrîta Language (1808); William Carey (1761–1834; DNB), A Grammar of the Sungskrit Language, Composed from the Works of the Most Esteemed Grammarians; to Which are Added Examples for the Exercise of the Student, and a Complete List of the Dhatoos or Roots (1804); and Henry Thomas Colebrooke (1765–1837), Grammar of the Sanskrit Language (1805), in the Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 53–69. BACK

[24] George Annesley, Viscount Valentia (1770–1844), Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, and the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt in the Years 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806 (1809), in Quarterly Review, 2 (August 1809), 88–126. Southey’s article underwent major revisions by Gifford before publication. BACK

[25] The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden had burnt down in 1808, and a fire at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane destroyed the building on 24 February 1809. BACK

[26] On 21 January 1809 a fire destroyed part of St James’s Palace, including the monarch’s private apartments in the south east corner. BACK

[27] On 13 March 1807 a fire broke out that destroyed the mansion of Thomas Johnes (1748–1816; DNB) on his Hafoduchtryd estate in Cardiganshire, including its valuable library which contained rare collections of Welsh manuscripts. BACK

[28] In 1809 a fire seriously damaged the south west corner of the Great Quadrangle in Christ Church College, Oxford. BACK

[29] Landor had recently bought an estate surrounding the ruins of Llanthony Priory in the Black Mountains, South Wales, which he intended to restore. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Llanthony (mentioned 1 time)