2659. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 October 1815

2659. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 October 1815 ⁠* 

Tuesday morning. 3 Oct. 1815. Brussels

My dear Grosvenor

I write a few hasty lines more as matter of business than as any thing else, because I wish you to advise Longman that I have drawn on him for £50, payable to Engelbert Werth on order a merchant of this place, [1]  who seems very intimately connected with the Mag. Rots friend Hercules Sharp. [2]  Finding that this could be done I preferred it to drawing on Herries, especially as I have found no letters here, – a very natural consequence of not knowing where to look for them. I have bought beaucoup de livres, [3]  – one package (a small one) will go from Ghent, another detachment containing somewhat about 120 volumes from hence. And I have bespoken a set of the Acta Sanctorum [4]  which will be sent as soon as Verbiest [5]  can compleat it, (a certain thing) & for which he will draw upon me at Longmans for 500 franks.

As for the Docstor heaven knows what has become of him, for neither tale nor tidings can I discover: this only I conclude that as my letter written to him from Ostend is not lying at the post office, he has received it & is gone on. We have joined company with the Vardons of Greenwich (friends of Knox [6]  to whom I pray you communicate this) they have with them Miss Forman [7]  niece of Ch. Collins’s widow, [8]  & Mr Nash an artist, & x deformed man, but a very interesting one. Mrs V. is a very pleasing woman, her sister is married to George Maule. [9]  We stayed two nights at Bruges, – a most interesting place. A day longer at Ghent which pleased me less; & here we have been since Thursday night, – the presence of the Emperor [10]  having prevented us from getting away sooner. To day we start for Waterloo, & sleep at Jemappe – thence to Namur Liege Spa & Aix la Chapelle, – from whence we turn homeward. The Rhine I leave for another year, – when perhaps you will accompany me there.

Here I have bought a histoire du Brazil in three vol. 8vo by Alphonse de Beauchamp [11]  author of a history of the war in la Vendee &c [12]  – just fresh from Paris. He says in his preface that he could have published the first part many years ago, but that he chose to wait till the whole was compleated & employed seven years in collecting materials & arranging his work, that having finished the two first volumes he thought it necessary to see what farther information could be obtained from recent works, that meantime M. Southey published a first volume of a <compilation upon the> history of B appeared –a compilation <in London>. [13]  “Sans offrir de nouvelles lumieres l’auteur Anglais (M. Southey) faisait esperance qu’un second volume, annoncé pour 1810, compléterait les annales du Bresile, et donnerait des renseignemens toute a fait nouveaux sur la géographie et sur la statique de cette vaste contrés. Vain espoir; l’attente de l’Europe littéraire a été encore une fois trompéi. Ce second volume, si emphatiquement promis n’a point paru.” [14]  – You will already have guessed that this fellow has literally & truly stolen my book [15]  & published it as his own. He has added an introductory chapter about the history of the mother country, & left out much, – but chapter after chapter is mere translation. he has absolutely had no other guide, – no other source, – no other original. my first volume carries him one third into his last, & then he hurries over the whole matter of my second <volume> as well as he can. And his list of authorities is copied from my marginal references, – even to the blunder of arranging different parts of the same volume (so done by me for precision) as different works. He quotes my manuscripts also in this list, – & to crown the whole makes blunders which decisively prove that he does not understand Portugueze – & has not even the commonest acquaintance with that language. I have exceedingly amused with this fellows impudence. How comfortable he will feel when some one of his countrymen shall publish a fair translation of my compleat work, – as doubtless one day or other, & probably at no distant day, will be the case.

Tell Rickman that I have seen the Beguinage at Ghent within & without & that it is the most interesting thing in Flanders. I have begun a letter to him. [16] 

We met Locker & his wife at Bruges. In the boat from thence to Ghent we were annoyed by a Baronets carriage, – the two persons who belonged to it kept aloof from all the passengers in a way which was taken for superciliousness, & called forth many sarcastic remarks from officers & others on board. It was however discovered, or surmised, that they were Peel & Saxton. [17]  I do not remember the person of the latter, & he perhaps would not chuse at this time to recognise me.

I have Now for packing & breakfast & then away for Waterloo. I have heard much concerning it, & planned a poem much to my satisfaction. [18] 

God bless you


P.S. Read those letters as if they were Hebrew & written without points. [19]  They will then properly introduce the information that the Mamuke was in not troubled with any complaint in the urinary passages when I saw him on Friday.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Postmark: [partial] FOREIGN/ OC 6/
Endorsement: Brussels 3d. Octor. 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Engelbert Werth (dates unknown), a German-born merchant and acquaintance of Southey’s fellow traveller Vardon. Werth later drew a plan of the battle of Waterloo for Southey. BACK

[2] Hercules Sharpe (d. 1858), of Domons, Nothiam in Sussex. He was a London merchant and historian of the Brabazon family, into which he had married. BACK

[3] ‘Lots of books’. BACK

[4] Southey met 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] Jean-Baptiste Ver Beyst (1770–1849) was a famous bookseller in Brussels. BACK

[6] John William Knox (1784–1862), clergyman, scholar and usher at Westminster School 1806–1821. BACK

[7] Miss Forman. Unidentified beyond the information given here. BACK

[8] Southey’s old schoolfriend, Charles Collins (d. 1806), had married Jane Forman (dates unknown). BACK

[9] George Maule (d. 1851); a friend of Southey’s during his time at Oxford, and possibly during his school days. Maule pursued a legal career and in 1818 was made Solicitor to the Treasury. He had married Caroline Forsyth Tarbutt (dates unknown) in 1810. BACK

[10] Alexander I (1777–1825; Emperor of Russia 1801–1825). He was in the Netherlands to attend William I’s (1772–1843; King of the Netherlands, 1815–1840) oath to uphold the new State’s constitution at Brussels on 21 September 1815. BACK

[11] Alphonse de Beauchamp (1769–1832), Histoire du Brésil (1815); no. 138 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] Histoire de la Guerre de la Vendée et des Chouans (1806). BACK

[13] Alphonse de Beauchamp, Histoire du Brésil, 3 vols (Paris, 1815), I, p. x. BACK

[14] ‘Without offering any new insights the English author (Mr Southey) gave hope that a second volume, announced for 1810, would complete the Annals of Brazil, and would give quite new information on the geography and statistics of that vast country. A vain hope; literary Europe has once again been disappointed. This second volume, so emphatically promised, has not appeared.’ BACK

[15] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil, published in 1810. BACK

[16] See Southey to John Rickman, 2[–16] October 1815, Letter 2658. BACK

[17] Sir Charles Saxton, 2nd Baronet (1773–1838), MP for Cashel 1812–1818 and Under-Secretary for the Civil Department in Ireland. Southey had been introduced to him by Wynn in 1804. BACK

[18] Southey’s The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[19] The diacritic marks which indicate vowels in the Hebrew script. So, ‘P.S.’ might be read as ‘pee is’ – a reference to the resolution of Southey’s own urinary difficulties. BACK