2940. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 March 1817

2940. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 March 1817⁠* 

Keswick. 14. March. 1817

My dear G.

I have just received the inclosed draft for 100 £ from Gifford to my great surprize, – whether to my perfect satisfaction I cannot so well say, – but coming as it has without any notice or expectation I am certainly not called upon by any feeling of propriety to refuse it. [1] Gifford very properly has not informed even you of it, & I shall inform no body but you. I send it to you to be translated at your convenience into Henry Hases, [2]  which I can receive in London. Here there is an inconvenience in cashing drafts of this amount (were there no other objection) – for we have only provincial paper [3]  in circulation which may be worth nothing tomorrow.

You will most likely know the fate of my worthy Uncle Walter [4]  by this time, – which is more than I do. I have let Wynn guide me, & suppose that I shall obtain & maintain an injunction. [5]  This is all the notice that I am inclined to take. Wat Tyler does no more than state broadly & in a very injudicious manner (the story being ill chosen & worse managed) the same opinions which I have not thought it necessary to expunge from many of my juvenile poems, because there is not the slightest reason to be ashamed of having entertained such opinions at such an age & in such times. The gradual change in those opinions may be distinctly traced by those who think it worth while to trace it, in my many operas, – more especially in the Register, [6]  & I shall not gratify the scoundrel who has raked up what I had consigned to oblivion, by taking any public notice of the affair, – farther than by an appeal to the laws. What my opinions are, & on what substantial grounds they rest, these rascals know & feel, & I shall continue to make myself felt & understood as long as the necessity exists for such exertion.

The advertisement which has shocked the Grand Murray & you also was my own doing. – I was so tickled at the way in which Mr Monthly, thinking perhaps to mortify me, had in reality asserted what in my own secret heart I was very much inclined to believe, – that I pointed it out to <the> Longman – asking him if it would not do well in an advertisement; – upon the ground that the World liked me sufficiently well as a poet, – & only wanted to be told that they ought to give me equal credit in the other department. It was half jest with me to provoke the writer, whoever he may have been. [7] 

An officer who has been obliged to sell out in consequence of a Court Martial & is trying to support himself & his child by – writing verses! – has written to me to patronize him. There is a good deal of ear & mouth in his verses, – & I wish I could serve him in any the only way possible which is that of getting subscriptions, – his name is Gilmour [8]  – give me yours for an epic (nothing less) upon Coeur de Lion, [9]  which is to come out in five shilling portions, to the number of eight, & be paid for on delivery, & get me xxx xx a few names if you can. His letter affected me, – I promised to try what I could do in this way, but held out no hope, cautioned him against venturing to print without a certainty that his expences would be reimbursed, & recommended him to try the drama as his best, or only chance.

I have begun a paper to follow up the last, – & it promises well. [10]  In its course I shall introduce a portrait of Mr Brougham so managed that it cannot be objected to on the score of personality, & yet all shall x recognize the likeness. [11]  – The one thing needful is to silence the seditious press. If Cobbett the Examiner [12]  & Hone are not thrown into prison by a verdict, they should be seized by the suspension act, – which ought to be in force till the commencement of the next session, – not till the end of this. [13] 

You do not tell me how your knee is going on. From your silence respecting your mother I trust that she is materially better.

The day of my departure depends upon Senhouse who travels to London with me. It will be about the 15th of next month, on the 17 or 18th I think you may expect me. But you will hear from me often in the interim. – Let me know that you have received this. – & forget not to say how your xxxx knee is.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate
Endorsement: 14 March 1817
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] In payment for Southey’s ‘Parliamentary Reform’, Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278 (published 11 February 1817). BACK

[2] Bank of England notes: Henry Hase (1764–1829), was Chief Cashier of the Bank of England 1807–1829 and his signature appeared on its notes. BACK

[3] Banknotes issued by local banks, which were always in danger of collapse, rendering their notes worthless. BACK

[4] Southey’s nickname for Wat Tyler (d. 1381; DNB), leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, referencing his family connections: his mother’s mother, Margaret Bradford (1710–1782) had married firstly William Tyler (1709–1747), and Southey had no fewer than three uncles with the surname of ‘Tyler’. Hence Southey’s jokey name for his play Wat Tyler (1817). BACK

[5] In 1794 Southey had sent James Ridgway (1755–1838) and Henry Symonds (1741–1816), radical booksellers, then in Newgate prison, a copy of his Jacobin drama Wat Tyler; see Robert Southey to Edith Fricker, [c. 12 January 1795], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part One, Letter 123. Ridgway and Symonds did not publish it and it remained in manuscript until a pirated publication, designed to embarrass the now anti-Jacobin Southey, appeared in 1817. Having taken advice from Rickman, Wynn and Turner, Southey launched a suit in Chancery so as to gain an injunction suppressing the publication. His case was not heard until 18–19 March 1817. BACK

[6] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808–1811 (1810–1813), for which Southey wrote on current affairs. BACK

[7] The Advertisement for the second Volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) that appeared widely in the press (e.g. Morning Chronicle, 24 March 1817) carried the endorsement ‘“We have no hesitation in saying that we like him (Mr. Southey) much better as an Historian than as a Poet.” – Monthly Review.’ The endorsement had originally appeared in the (very mixed) review of the first volume of the History of Brazil (1810) in Monthly Review, 69 (December 1812), 337. BACK

[8] Captain Robert Gilmour (dates unknown), who was court-martialled and dismissed from the 1st West India Regiment on 12 July 1813 for embezzling his Company’s funds. He was the author of Tales in Verse (1815), Lothaire: a Romance (1815) and The Battle of Waterloo: a Poem (1816). BACK

[9] King Richard I (1157–1199, King of England 1189–1199; DNB). This poem was not published. BACK

[10] Southey’s ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’, Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552. BACK

[11] Southey attacked Brougham in passing in the ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’, Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 543–544 but no full-scale portrait of Brougham was included in the published article. BACK

[12] The Examiner was the weekly newspaper edited by Leigh Hunt 1808–1821. BACK

[13] Parliament voted to suspend habeas corpus on 28 February 1817, with effect from 4 March. This allowed imprisonment without trial; the suspension was not lifted until 31 January 1818. Cobbett and Hunt are attacked in Southey’s ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’, Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 546–553. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)