3187. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 6 September 1818

3187. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 6 September 1818⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

If you had written to me in extenuation as you term it, I should have been as nearly angry with you, as any thing could make me: – for how could I possibly attribute any thing which you had said to any motive but the right one, – or wherefore should I be more displeased with you for not liking the my intended epistle, [1] xx more than you were with me for not liking your Dalinatian or Damnation wine: the roughness of the one did not ple suit my palate, nor the asperity of the other your taste. And what of that? I dare say you think quite as favourably of your wine as before, & I am not a whit the less satisfied with my style objurgatory. But let that pass.

I hope you have bought Westalls views of the Caves. [2]  When you come into this country next you must see thexx Cave country, & I will go with you. & D Manuel Alvarez Espriella shall be of the party, & keep a journal. [3]  So bear this in mind & consider it as an engagement.

In the midst of daily & almost hourly interruptions I am getting on with Brazil in such a way as to be tolerably well contented with the quantum of my labours. [4]  But I can hardly call a single hour my own. Poor Lloyd is in Keswick, & I hope the better for being here, & for feeling himself treated exactly as he used to be, with no reference to his malady, – over which he has a perfect controul. It is a pitiable & strange derangement, – for his intellect was never clearer, nor his conversation more interesting, or xxxxxx {more} discriminating & acute, at any time of his life. The General too is arrived, & the Beaumonts [5]  are here, & Wilberforce is coming. Wordsworth brought Ld Lowther here two days ago to pass the evening. And not a week passes without sundry Lakers each with his Letter. By the by your Frenchman [6]  has given me the go by. He was at Lowther some weeks ago, & said he was coming here, – but non est inventus. [7] 

Roderic is going to press for a fifth edition. [8]  When I see the Long Men I shall talk to them about the prudence of trying one of my poems in a cheap form, close printing without the notes, so as to sell for three or four shillings, & find its way into all country shops. I do not think it would in any degree interfere with the sale of the other edition, – but I believe that a great many would sell among persons who cannot or will not afford 16/s. & that we should not only gain by this sale, but indirectly by the good effect of popularizing my writings. [9]  Kehama [10]  also is in the press – for the fourth time, but the editions have been smaller than those of Roderick. Of Roderick the editions were 1 500, 1500, 2000, 2000. Of Kehama only 2500 in all. I do not wonder at the difference, – it is as it ought to be, & yet Kehama is the greater work, & that by which I shall be known as a creative poet.

The Maximus Murray had left much of his greatness in Albemarle Street, – notwithstanding he came in his own carriage. He brought with him a brother Bibliopole – Blackwood of Edinburgh, [11]  – they were full of his (Blackwoods) Magazine, in which Murray has engaged; – I let them talk & throw out their hooks, gave them a dinner, & set them off well pleased with their entertainment; in which no hospitality had been wanting, & nothing had been said to put them out of humour with themselves & their own projects.

I have just purchased Giffords B Jonson. [12]  He supposes that the Laureate continues to receive his tierce [13]  of Spanish Canary, & recommends him yearly to drink to old Ben in the first glass. Tell him if he will get me reinstated in my proper rights, I will drink to Ben Jonson not once a year, but once a day, & to him also. – By the manner of which he speaks of Sidneys Arcadia [14]  I conclude that either he has never read the book, or has totally forgotten it.

So you are to have a Palace Yard Meeting tomorrow [15] ; – so few weeks have elapsed since Hunt [16]  was beaten & blackguarded in the face of the mob, till his own miscreants hooted at him, – & yet you see he is in full feather again. [17]  This fellow ought to be tried for sedition, – he would certainly be found guilty, xxxx for the jury as yet would be nothing worse than Burdettite, & therefore disposed to give him his deserts. And during the time of his confinement he should be restricted to prison diet, kept from all intercourse with visitors – & left to amuse himself with the Bible, the Prayer Book, [18]  & Drelincourt upon death [19]  – or the Whole Duty of Man [20]  for his whole Library. At the end of two years he would come out cured.

Do you not let xx Have you paid the worthy Israelite to whom I am indebted so much on the score of civility, that part of the debt which consists in a money account for freight, & cartage? [21] 

God bless you


Sept. 6. 1818.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 9 SE 9/ 1818
Endorsements: 6 Septr 1818; 6 Septr 1818
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 310–311 [in part]. BACK

[1] Southey had sent Bedford a draft of the first part of his pamphlet criticising Brougham. As the Courier reported on 4 July, Brougham, campaigning for the parliamentary seat of Westmorland against the candidates favoured by Wordsworth’s patron the Earl of Lonsdale, had spoken at the hustings at Appleby on 30 June, attacking both Southey and Wordsworth. Southey was dissuaded from publishing the retort that he discusses here. Part of it finally appeared as a ‘Postscript’ to the second edition of Carmen Triumphale (London, 1821), pp. 45–53. BACK

[2] Westall’s collection of engravings Views of the Caves near Ingleton in Yorkshire (London, 1818) combined several engraving techniques to create effects of light and shade. BACK

[3] Southey did not produce a sequel to his Letters from England: By Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1807). BACK

[4] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[6] Unidentified. BACK

[7] ‘He is not found’. BACK

[8] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). The 5th edition appeared in 1818. BACK

[9] This plan was not realized. BACK

[10] The 4th edition of The Curse of Kehama (1810) also appeared in 1818. BACK

[11] Murray had taken a stake in the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine, which had started publication on 1 April 1817 and was run by William Blackwood. The seventh number was retitled Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (1817–1980). BACK

[12] Gifford’s The Works of Ben Jonson ...: With Notes Critical and Explanatory, and a Biographical Memoir (1816), no. 1529 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library: an edition of the works of the dramatist and poet, Ben Jonson (1572–1637; DNB). BACK

[13] An early modern measure of volume, equal to forty-two gallons. This perquisite was converted into an additional annual payment of £27 by Southey’s predecessor, Henry James Pye (1745–1813; DNB), Poet Laureate 1790–1813. Gifford, The Works of Ben Jonson, 9 vols (London, 1816), I, pp. cliv–clv, stated that Jonson received ‘a tierce of Canary, (Jonson’s favourite wine,) which has been continued to his successors, and of which the first glass should, in gratitude, be offered by them to the poet’s memory’. BACK

[14] Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586; DNB), The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (1590) was a favourite work of Southey’s. Gifford, The Works of Ben Jonson, 9 vols (London, 1816), I, p. cxxii, reported the idea that Sidney had intended to transpose the action of Arcadia to the Court of King Arthur. BACK

[15] Public meetings often occurred in Palace Yard, outside Westminster Hall. The meeting on 7 September 1818 was a radical gathering, urging the people ‘to take into consideration the propriety of making a public declaration of their rights’. BACK

[16] Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt (1773–1835; DNB), the radical reformer, was the main speaker at the Palace Yard meeting. BACK

[17] Hunt had been a radical candidate for the Westminster constituency in the 1818 general election. However, he received only 84 votes and found himself jeered and jostled by the Westminster mob, which feared his candidature would split the anti-government vote and lead to the defeat of the Whig candidates, Sir Francis Burdett and Sir Samuel Romilly (1757–1818; DNB). BACK

[18] The Book of Common Prayer (1662) detailing daily forms of worship in Anglican Churches. BACK

[19] Charles Drelincourt (1595–1669), The Christian’s Defense against the Fears of Death (1651). BACK

[20] An anonymous devotional work of 1658. BACK

[21] Southey had enlisted the Jewish banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836; DNB) to assist in the transit of the books he had bought in Brussels in 1817. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Lowther estate (mentioned 1 time)