2651. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 September 1815

2651. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 September 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

You will be expecting to see me instead of one of my scrawling epistles, – & in truth I am on the verge of departing, tho not sufficiently certain of my movements as yet to say when the day will be. I finish my work tomorrow, – or perhaps to night – but I have not secured seats in the mail because there is a good hope of avoiding the purgatory of that conveyance. Henry Koster is going with me, – not merely to town but to Waterloo. Now there is a certain Dr Stanger [1]  in this neighbourhood, tho unluckily not upon the spot, he is bound for London about this time, & will I know be as glad to join me in a post chaise, as we shall be to catch him. – He has been written to about it, & his answer or his appearance is hour daily looked for. I think he will hasten his departure a day or two to accommodate us, & it would be folly not to delay ours as much to accommodate him. If you see the Docstor tell him this – or say it to him by a note.

Your letters [2]  interested me much – I will put them in my trunk & return them safely to you, or the Mag: Rot: in person.

I look to you for my supplier for the journey. My bank like that of the Sinner Saved (whose works in 20 volumes are on yonder table expecting judgement) is the Bank of Faith, [3]  as you will know & you are my Banker. Yet certainly I could not live without works also.

Can you guess what I look to with most satisfaction on this journey? – the probability of getting the Acta Sanctorum, – which of all imaginable acquisitions would to me be the greatest. [4] 

I heartily hope you may join us, – you would even enjoy the second journey more than the first. For there would be the pleasure of recollection, & comparisons first & second impressions, – & enough of novelty still. So I found it in Portugal. – Of course the Docstor will have made enquiries of you concerning passports &c – My Uncle will provide us with letters to Sir Ch. Stuart, if he be at Brussels. [5]  I have looked at all the books which I have at hand, & made myself got all the previous knowledge which they could give me.

I have fought the battles of Ligny [6]  & Waterloo [7]  with infinite pains, with what success must be determined by others. [8]  I am not dissatisfied, – yet there are many things upon which I could have wished for more specific information. You are a villain for not telling me the things which you say were interesting in conversation, but nothing more. I know the use & value of such things.

God bless you


Monday 4. Sept. 1815.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Postmark: E/ 7 SE 7/ 1815
Endorsement: 4 Sept. 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The physician Christopher Stanger (1759–1834; DNB). He was a member of a family that owned estates near Keswick. BACK

[2] Possibly Grosvenor Bedford’s record of his journey to the Continent in 1814–1815. BACK

[3] The preacher and religious writer William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), whose God the Guardian of the Poor and the Bank of Faith (1785–1802), describes how Providence assisted his early preaching career by supplying him with food, clothing and all else he needed, including (pp. 70–72) a pair of leather breeches. The Works of the Reverend William Huntington (1811) extended to 20 volumes. They were finally reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510, where he condemned Huntington’s work as unparalleled ‘in the whole bibliotheca of knavery and fanaticism’ (482). BACK

[4] Southey was to meet with mixed success on his book-buying expedition in Belgium and France. For a while, he hoped he had bought the complete set of the rare, 53 volume Acta Sanctorum (Brussels, 1643–1794), no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. In fact he received from the bookseller a 6 volume edition of 1783–1794, no. 152 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] Charles Stuart, Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB). The former British envoy at Lisbon (1810–1814), he had become ambassador at Paris in 1815, remaining there until 1824. BACK

[6] The Prussians had been defeated by French forces at the Battle of Ligny on 16 June 1815. BACK

[7] The allied victory at Waterloo, 18 June 1815. BACK

[8] Ligny and Waterloo had featured in Southey’s review of: Eustache-Auguste Carel (1788–1836), Précis Historique de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1808 à 1814 (1815); Jean Sarrazin (1770–1848), Histoire de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1807 à 1814 (1814); General View of the Political State of France, and of the Government of Louis XVIII (1815); An Answer to the Calumniators of Louis XVIII (1815); Official Accounts of the Battle of Waterloo (1815); Lieutenant-General W. A. Scott (dates unknown), Battle of Waterloo (1815), Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. BACK

People mentioned