2115. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 June 1812

2115. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 June 1812 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

My letter which past yours on the road, will have told you that I shall be from home during the middle of July. My movement depends upon Danvers, from whom I have not heard since, – but at any rate I shall certainly & sans doubt xx return by the first of August, & you had better make your arrangements to travel with Blanco, & for the sake of seeing sights by the way take the road of Oxford, Ludlow & Chester, in which case you may give his Honour a call en passant, if he be in the country, as probably he will. I hope Henry will come with you, he will enjoy himself far more than he did last time, now that you are a sound man. – The Brownes are at Ludlow, which is a place worth going a days journey to see, the Castle being one of our finest ruins.

This year I cannot look at Scotland, but I will my hands are too full. Look how my affairs stand. I am in the midst of the Regency debates [1]  & (God be thanked – ) within three days of the end of the Register. Then comes the Quarterly to which I must go dens et unguis. [2]  Then have I to finish the Life of Nelson [3]  x contracted for by Murray more than two years ago, & only a third part done: – this however when it becomes the order of the day will soon be compleated. Then the Book of the Church [4]  likewise agreed for with him, – this also may be a months work, & will probably be one of my most best performances. I expect to do this, & finish the Omniana, [5]  & get on a good spell with my hist: of Brazil, [6]  before the Register is called for again, [7]  – supposing (which is always a matter of uncertainty) that it answers well enough to induce the publishers to continue it. Its failure would be a serious evil to me, for tho it gives me six months full & close employment, those six months are employed to more profit than the whole twelve months could be in any other manner. In fact while it lasts, & I am able to x xxxx perform my part, it gives me as much as I want. But between ourselves I doubt its continuance, & should not be displeased to receive a pressing letter from Ballantyne urging me to set forward with the fourth volume.

Croker has written me a very friendly letter, inclosing his correspondence with Lord Hertford concerning that good ship the Historiographer to which he would fain have had me appointed. [8]  It seems he applied to Lord Liverpool & Ryder, [9]  & then got at the Chamberlain thro Ld Yarmouth. [10]  Scott wrote to Ld Melville, [11]  – so there was no want of good will, nor of applications. The best part of his account is that the salary is 200 £ – I had always believed it 400, from your report, & inasmuch as it falls short am the less disappointed. Stanier Clarke [12]  is of course chosen by the Prince himself. It is a pity he is such that so much industry should be thrown away upon a man so little able to direct it for he is a most extraordinary blockhead. Do look at my review in the 2d vol. of the Annual of his Hist: of Maritime Discovery, [13]  – the very worst book I ever saw or at least of all books the one which evinced the greatest want of good sense in the author. Among other blunders not less curious he gave a Portugueze King a Jew physician for his Confessor. [14]  I dare say he will not be idle, & whatever he brings out, tho it will disgrace the title inevitably (for there is no cure for being a blockhead), will yet be something gained in the way of documents.

I wish Canning & Wellesley could have been joined the ministry, but would rather have the present men without them, than them without Ld Liverpool & the Sidmouths [15]  who have long been had my good wishes & opinion. Any thing but Any thing rather than the Gregres. [16]  If you do not understand that admirable name, compounded of the initial letters of Grey & Grenville, look in any book about the Gold Coast for an account of the rubbish which the negroes worship, & you will find that gregre is the name of a brainless God – in French gris-gris.

I owe Gifford a letter of thanks, but it must wait till I make it a letter of business. – I had nearly forgotten to beg you would tell him that if he will send me either the MS. or the proofs of Blancos article, [17]  I will x very gladly comment upon it, – if he wishes it. With me the subject stands over for next years Register, because the 2d vol. of the Debates of the Cortes was not printed in time. [18] 

If you get my money before you are leaving town, Rickman can get it franked, in want of a franker in ordinary. I hope you will establish a new communication in Downing Street if Vansittart [19]  should continue Brooksbank [20]  there.

God bless you


Keswick. June 16. 1812.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer
Endorsement: June 16. 1812
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The parliamentary debates about the establishment of the Regency following George III’s (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB) relapse of October 1810; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 523–575. BACK

[2] ‘Tooth and claw’. BACK

[3] Life of Nelson (1813), an expansion of Southey’s article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[4] Southey’s The Book of the Church, not published until 1824. BACK

[5] Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores (1812). BACK

[6] The second volume of the History of Brazil, published in 1817. BACK

[7] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). BACK

[8] Southey’s campaign for the post of Historiographer Royal which had become vacant on the death of Louis Dutens (1730–1812; DNB) on 23 May 1812. BACK

[9] The Tory politician Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby (1762–1847; DNB). A Pittite loyalist and member of Perceval’s cabinet, he became Lord President of the Council on the formation of Lord Liverpool’s ministry in June 1812. BACK

[10] Francis Charles Seymour-Conway (1777–1842; DNB), who, as heir to the Marquessate of Hertford, held the courtesy title Lord Yarmouth. He was a close friend of the Prince Regent, who appointed him to the post of vice-chamberlain in 1812 – the Chamberlain was his father, the Marquess of Hertford. BACK

[11] Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville (1771–1851; DNB), who had become First Lord of the Admiralty earlier in 1812. BACK

[12] James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB), whom Southey loathed. BACK

[13] James Stanier Clarke, The Progress of Maritime Discovery (1803); reviewed by Southey in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 12–20. BACK

[14] An error Southey pointed out in Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 19. The king in question was John II (1455–1495; King of Portugal 1481–1495). BACK

[15] The former Prime Minister, Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth (1757–1844; DNB), who became Home Secretary in 1812, and his band of about eight followers. BACK

[16] Gregres were idols of wood and clay in West Africa. The term was used by Southey as a nickname for the Whigs, led by Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; DNB), Prime Minister 1830–1834; and the followers of William Grenville. BACK

[17] Blanco White’s review of William Walton (1783/4–1857; DNB), Present State of the Spanish Colonies; Including a Particular Report of Hispanola, or the Spanish Part of Santo Domingo (1810), appeared in Quarterly Review, 14 (June 1812), 235–264. BACK

[18] Diario de las Discusiones y Actas de las Cortes, 1810–1813 (1811–1813), no. 3288 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Southey gave his opinions on South American affairs in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813), 367–421. BACK

[19] Nicolas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley (1766–1851; DNB) had become Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 May 1812. BACK

[20] Thomas Constantine Brooksbank (1778–1850) was Spencer Perceval’s Private Secretary. He remained at the Treasury as Senior Clerk of the Minutes 1812–1815, rising to be Chief Clerk of the Treasury. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)