3048. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 December 1817

3048. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 December 1817⁠* 

My dear G.

The sooner you can send me some money the better, – my article for the Q. having been postponed to make room for matter which certainly was not entitled to any such preference. [1]  This of course they are fully entitled to do: – but I should like to know what motive can have induced them to go so far out of their way as to insert a reviewal of Malthus, for the pure & only purpose of contradicting what I had written upon that very subject in a former number. [2]  It is quite impossible that any thing could have been more impolitic for the Review, – if consistency be of any consequence to its character, – or more thoroughly disrespectful to me. – I shall not take any notice of this conduct, – for if I did it would be necessary at once to break off all connection with the journal. But when I have finished off <one or> two xxxxx subjects for which I have made more preparations than it would be convenient to lose, I shall then xxxxxxx <xxxx find worthier employment for> that half of my time which has hitherto been, not very willingly, devoted to Messrs Mammon & Murray. A resolution to the propriety of which I believe every one of my friends will cordially assent.

Your pencils are in Nash’s possession. He will have a demand upon you for certain frames on my account.

I have done nothing more about the Princess, – but I must in the course of two or three days put together something for the Mus Doc. [3]  There certainly can be no necessity for my doing more than this, & the propriety must depend I think more upon my own inclination, than any thing else. You will ask what I have been about: – doggedly reviewing in the evenings; – it is dogged work, – very much like a school-exercise which must be done because it is required & not because I like to do it, – & therefore it almost always costs twice the time of any spontaneous labour: – in the mornings at Brazil: sometimes a little at Wesleys life: sometimes a little at the Peninsular War (by the bye it is very well my first chapter was not printed. [4] Murray having sent me a French book [5]  which will be signally serviceable to it) – sometimes a little at the Tale of Paraguay, [6]  – & so little by little every thing gets on, till some one is so far advanced that I pursue it totis viribus [7]  & clear it off. It rarely happens that I have not an appetite for something & xxxx by baulking this appetite, task-work frequently does a great deal of mischief.

Kehama is soon going to press for a fourth edition, – the third has been five years on sale. [8]  This is a little a-la-tortoise, – & xx yet it will be moving on when all the greyhound productions of the day will be fairly foundered.

Is not this a good description of a nondescript animal, – the great, wild, long-footed, pottagivorous, [9]  oatmealophagous, bald Shedaw.? – Her head has just been shaved, the hair having come off after a smart illness which she had during my absence.

You said something to Westall which led him to tell his brother [10]  that you meant to call upon him, – & the brother it seems, in consequence, is very desirous of making your acquaintance, – & so I am to give you his address which is 6 Alfred Crescent, Bedford Square. – It is close by Tottenham Court Road, pretty nearly on a line with the Dog Stars. Pray call there as soon as you can, because I plainly perceive it will be gratifying to a man who is very sensible of acts of kindness.

God bless you


Keswick. 8 Dec. 1817.

Oh my Books! my Books! [11] 


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 11 DE 11/ 1817
Endorsements: 8 Decr 1817; 8 Decr 1817
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Bedford remitted Southey’s stipend as Poet Laureate to him. Southey had recently completed a review of Lord Holland, Some Account of the Lives and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio, and Guillen de Castro (1817), but this was not published until Quarterly Review, 18 (October 1817), 1–46 (this number did not appear until 21 February 1818). BACK

[2] Quarterly Review, 17 (July 1817), 369–403, carried a review by John Bird Sumner (1780–1862; DNB), entitled ‘Malthus on Population’ and far more favourable to the ideas of Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834; DNB) on poverty and population increase than Southey had been when he discussed Malthus in Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. BACK

[3] Princess Charlotte had died in childbirth, after 18 months of marriage, on 6 November 1817, and Southey was considering whether to make this event the subject of his New Year’s Ode as Poet Laureate. This would need to be sent to William Shield, the Master of the King’s Music, to be set to music (though no performance of such an ode had taken place since 1810). Southey had already drafted ‘Lines Written Upon the Death of the Princess Charlotte’, but these were not published until they appeared in The Amulet, or Christian and Literary Remembrancer (London, 1829), pp. 91–92. By 15 December 1817 Southey had completed a ‘Funeral Song for the Princess Charlotte’, to serve as the Poet Laureate’s New Year’s Ode for 1818; but this too was left unpublished for ten years, when it appeared in Friendship’s Offering: A Literary Album and Christmas and New Year’s Present, for 1828 (London, 1828), pp. 1–6. BACK

[4] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819); The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820); and History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[5] Murray had sent the first two volumes of Jean Baptist Germain Fabry (1770–1821), Le Génie de la Révolution Considéré dans l’Education ou Mémoires pour Servir a l’Histoire de l’Instruction Publique, Depuis 1789 jusqu’à Nos Jours (1817–1818). BACK

[6] Southey’s A Tale of Paraguay (1825). BACK

[7] ‘With all my powers’. BACK

[8] The Curse of Kehama (1810). The third edition had been published in 1812; the fourth appeared in 1818. BACK

[9] One who likes to eat pottage. BACK

[10] Richard Westall (1765–1836; DNB), William’s elder brother and mentor, a popular artist whose drawings would illustrate Southey’s A Tale of Paraguay (1825). BACK

[11] Southey impatiently awaited the arrival of books he had bought in Milan and Brussels in 1817. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)