2833. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 August 1816

2833. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 August 1816⁠* 

Sunday 31 Aug. 1816

My dear Grosvenor

I begin to wish for solitude & long evenings – Winter it were needless to include in the wish, for we have been <had> it almost uninterruptedly xxxxx xxxx xxxxx since last Christmas. I am weary of visitors, & want leisure. The Beaumonts [1]  are here, & Rogers is here, – & the Lord knows who has been here, – & the Lord knows who more of the Lord knows who’s family are coming. Here is Glover [2]  in town, & the younger Westall, & – the Secretaries of the Bible Society [3]  have been here, & the King of Prussias Librarian [4]  has been here, – & what with one & another I am well nigh walked off my legs, & talked out of my life. Am I the better for all this, you will ask. Every body will tell you that I am in good spirits, – but – my spirits are not what they were, – nor will they ever again be. [5] hæret lateri. [6] 

I have begun this letter forgetting that an unfinished one has been long lying in my desk; – so as I can frank this, I will cut off the fragment. Gifford is at his old work of castrating my reviews, against which I must resolutely & decidedly remonstrate. He has likewise without ceremony or any apology whatsoever wholly supprest a short article which I believe you saw, upon a Frenchmans history of Massenas campaign in Portugal, [7]  & which certainly has not been omitted to make room for better matter. It would be curious if I should be so disgusted as to throw up the review at a time when it pays me so <more> liberally than I have ever before been remunerated for any kind of labour But I am strongly disposed to suspect foul play with which Gifford is unacquainted. Judge for yourself – Murray propounds to me among others subjects a paper upon the West Indies, – there is none which I am more competent to treat: I accepted it, & intimated an intention of making it conclude with reference to the Registry Bill; [8] Murray is well pleased, – collects abundant pamphletts, – takes for it for granted that I must take part with the Planters & Slave Smugglers because he “took [9]  it for granted that I should think differently from MessrsJeffrey & Brougham, “ – & finding that on this point (which is in effect the question of the Abolition) I agree with them, he writes to solicit as a matter in which his personal interest is deeply concerned, – that I will write upon any other subject. There are two modes of accounting for this, – he may have West Indian property or connections, & t in that case have formed a fools opinion, upon a mistaken notion of self interest, – or – he has submitted his journal to some undue influence – I pretend not to say what. Money has been lavished in purchasing newspapers &c – yet he can hardly have been so imprudent as well as xx to sell his review – & damn its character & his own should this truth be suspected. I of course have laid the subject aside, – but as I made no secret of my intention to write thro that medium upon the question, I have warned him to beware how he takes the other side.

Lord Byron calls him the Grand Murray. I have preserved all his letters, – their hints & their flattery would amuse you much. When next you come to Keswick we will turn over these papers upon a rainy day, & put them in some order.

By accident I have seen a number of the Examiner containing a parody upon the Proem to the Lay; I could not have desired it to be more silly or more stupid. You are included in it nominatim as my wise friend, in reference to burlesquing the stanza wherein I say the friendship of the wise & good is mine. [10]  It is hardly worth while to allude to such attacks or seriously – but if you will send me back the chapters of the prophet Jehephary, [11]  I will xx alter & adapt them to the present state <date>, & secure their appearance in the Courier by sending them to Stuart myself.

Recover if you can the MS of my two last articles. [12]  – Remember me to all at home.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 31 August 1816.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 33–35. BACK

[2] John Glover (1767–1849; DNB), the watercolour painter who owned Blowick Farm in Patterdale, on Ullswater. BACK

[3] The Secretaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society (founded 1804): John Owen (1766–1822; DNB), Curate of Fulham 1795–1813; and Joseph Hughes (1769–1833; DNB), Baptist Minister who held various posts at Bristol’s Broadmead Baptist Church 1791–1796, where he met Southey. BACK

[4] Samuel Heinrich Spiker (1786–1858). An English translation of his account of his experiences in Britain was later published as Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the Year 1816, 2 vols (London, 1820). His meeting with Southey was described on I, pp. 269–272. Naturally, Spiker was most interested in Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Herbert Southey had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

[6] Publius Vergilius Maro (70–19 BC), Aeneid, Book 4, line 73: ‘[it] clings to my side’, in the sense of an arrow in a deer. BACK

[7] André Delagrave (1774–1849), Campagne de l’Armée Francaise en Portugal, dans les années 1810–11, &c. par Mr A. D. L. G., Officier Supérieur employé dans l’État-Major de cette Armée (1815), dealing with the French Marshal, André Massena’s (1758–1817), campaign in Portugal 1810–1811. This review was not published in the Quarterly Review. BACK

[8] The Registry Bill (1815), backed by Wilberforce, proposed the registration of all slaves in British colonies, but was vehemently opposed by supporters of slavery. For the proposed article, and the books Southey requested Murray to send him, see Southey to Murray, 29 June 1816, Letter 2818. BACK

[9] Initially ‘takes’. BACK

[10] Leigh Hunt used the paper he jointly ran, the Examiner, to attack Southey as a political turncoat. The Examiner, 449 (4 August 1816), 489–490 carried Hunt’s parody of Southey’s The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘The Laureate Laid Double’, including the lines ‘Here I enjoy, amidst my haws and hips,/ The friendship of wise Grosvenor and good Croker: –/ The battles of the Kings and Priests I fought ye ‘em,/ And so at last they’ve crowned my caput mortuum.’ Southey felt this parodied The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘Proem’, stanza 9, line 4, ‘The friendship of the good and wise is mine’. BACK

[11] Southey’s parodic attack on Jeffrey, the ‘Book of the Prophet Jehephary’, was, on the advice of his friends, not published in his lifetime. It appeared in John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 35–42. BACK

[12] Southey reviewed in Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 1–69, a series of memoirs of the French Revolutionary wars and, in the same number, wrote an article ‘On the Poor’, 15 (April 1816), 187–235. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)