1904. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 April 1811

1904. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 April 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 15. 1811

My dear Grosvenor

It surprizes me that Blake [1]  who must know so well from his own inexperience the wretched state of the Spanish armies should oppose so sure a plan of reestablishing them as that of xxxxxxx xxxxxx <training men> under British officers. This prejudice cannot possibly last long, the Spaniards themselves will cry out against it, & remove him from the Regency. There is one thing which I could wish to see done in Portugal & that is, that as fast as possible, native officers should be made from the ranks, & honours even showered upon those who are of deserving of them. Silveira [2]  for instance ought to be ennobled.

I want to hear of more troops going out that Lord Wellington may not have to wait upon the frontier till Massena [3]  receives reinforcements sufficient for all this to be acted over again. I would have him enabled to continue on the offensive, & recover Almeida & Cuidad Rodrigo, [4]  & put this army at least whose morals are in such a shatterd state completely hors de combat. [5] 

I have not seen the Goggery upon Kehama, – nothing that comes from that Micromegas is to be called criticism, so there you have a new word for it fresh from the mint. [6]  As for Coleridge he will never do any thing that he ought to do, either for himself or for any body else. Perfectly unoccupied as he is, & with a daily paper [7]  completely at his command, he might have extinguished Gog long ago, & ought to have done it. If you think thi Goggery is worth answering, I would not wish it in better hands than yours, – but I doubt whether any answer would be useful, – those who can listen to such doctrines as the Ed. Review promulgates upon points of taste, are in a state of moral & intellectual blindness <of which> no operator can cure them.

When you speak of the existing Spanish armies you do not include those in Catalonia & Valencia. The Catalans have done their duty most nobly. It is unaccountable why we should so totally have neglected them.

About the flower seeds you need do no more than walk into a seedsmans & ask for what you want, – adding if you please the Persicaria to the list, – they may come in edi eodem franko [8]  with the other half-notes, [9]  – for the season for sowing is passing by. I doubt the possibility of bringing the blue thistle to town, it has a large tap root, – & we shall a week on the road if we make first for London, – three if we go round by Bristol instead of returning by it, – points as yet undecided.

The stags-horn nap I have not forgotten, as yet it has hardly shown its nose I believe. The Moon & the Moons Father will ascend Latrigg & see.

400 pages of the Register [10]  are printed, & I send off as much copy to night as will carry it on to 500. Hei mihi [11]  there yet remains a world of work to do! – I am only sorry for this because it confines me longer here than is convenient for my intended movements. We cannot start before the last week in May.

You are often enquired for here by your town acquaintance, the Doctor, the Crosthwaites [12]  & John Cockbaine, [13]  – who – be it known to you, has this day received orders for the pantaloons in which I am to travel to town.

God bless you – I must go to work upon a whole pile of Spanish papers. – You will wonder to see what a chapter I have made upon Turkey, Slavonic politics & Czerni George. [14] 

Continue to send me good accounts of yourself, & to defy all prophets of ill. I rejoice to hear of the claret, – & should rejoice still more to partake of it.

Vive vale que [15] 



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 18 APR 18/ 1811
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Spanish general Joaquín Blake y Joyes (1759–1827). He was a member of the 5-man Supreme Council of Regency appointed on 28 October 1810 and was creating a General Staff for the Spanish armies. BACK

[2] The Portuguese general Francisco da Silviera (1763–1821). He was ennobled as the Count of Amarante in 1811. BACK

[3] The French Marshal André Massena (1758–1817), one of the commanders of the invasion of Portugal in 1810. BACK

[4] The Spanish cities of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo had been captured by the French in summer 1810. Ciudad Rodrigo was recaptured by the allies in January 1812. BACK

[5] i.e. ‘out of action’. BACK

[6] Francis Jeffrey’s appraisal of The Curse of Kehama (1810), Edinburgh Review, 17 (February 1811), 429–465. Gog and Micromegas are swipes at Jeffrey’s lack of height. BACK

[7] The London newspaper the Courier, for which Coleridge was working. BACK

[8] ‘in the same place, franked’. BACK

[9] i.e. half-banknotes – a secure way of sending money in the post, by tearing banknotes in half and sending the two halves separately. BACK

[10] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[11] ‘Woe is me’. BACK

[12] Possibly the family of Peter Crosthwaite (1735–1808), a retired naval commander, publisher of maps and inventor of the aeolian harp. In the 1780s he established the first museum in Keswick. Its treasures included a set of musical stones, a stuffed albatross and a pig with no legs. By 1811 the Museum was run by his son Daniel (c. 1776–1847), a portrait painter. BACK

[13] John Cockbain (dates unknown), a tailor in Keswick. BACK

[14] Karageorge Petrovitch [Czerni George; Black George] (1768–1817), one of the leaders of the first Serbian uprising against Ottoman rule; see the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 446–469. BACK

[15] ‘Live and be well’. BACK

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