3234. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 [January] 1819

3234. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 [January] 1819 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Mine Gott! de Stoacks! [1]  – After this text I have to submit to your judgement th a reasonable query – whether the three per cents being at 78 – & the five per cents at 107 – it be not better to give 214 for 10£ a year, than – 234 for only 9£. It is true there is the chance of the five per cents being paid off, but whenever that may take place, it is hardly likely that ten per cent <20£> should be lost by the transfer, – & till then it does I am <saving that sum in> gaining twenty shillings a year. Use your judgement & buy in accordingly. As for Ballantyne [2]  I am not suprized at any dirtiness in that corner, & too well pleased at having recovered that to this much to be provoked at the defalcation. Still I remain a loser to the amount of about 200£ without the chance of ever recovering a sixpence. – However here is something to begin with, – hardly got, & hardly saved, – & by Gods blessing if I live & do well, in the course of two years I will add to it largely.

Gifford has postponed both my articles, – but if I may judge by his bill of fare they have given way to baser matter. [3]  It is of no consequence, as they happen to be of no length, & I can do without the supply. And as these are ready for the next number I shall not finish the paper which was in hand. [4]  The time may better be employed upon my Opus Majus, [5]  on which I am working almost too sedulously, because the end is in view. 58 sheets printed, – copy for five or six more in Poples hands. This work is so nearly unproductive in the way of profit (perhaps I am perverse enough to pursue it with the better will for that very reason) – that the completion of it will be like paying off a mortgage on ones estate. I shall then become master of so much productive time, – & the Peninsular War will neither <not> require half the labour. [6] 

Dr Bell is here – which is the only news I have for you.

You see I took courage & skipped my exercise this time. – There are two things which I shall propose to Longman when I see him. To reprint the Carmen Triumphale & the Cong: Odes that they may go with my other verse works, – making a little volume like the Lay; [7]  – & by way of experiment to publish one of the longer poems (no matter which to begin with) without notes, in a single small volume, for popular sale, – at 5 or 6 shillings. [8]  This I think would answer well. It would not prevent any persons from buying the better edition, but it would be bought by very many who would never purchase the other.

I have some papers which I cannot tell how to get rid off in any better way, than by sending them to you in a parcel, – the carriage whereof you must charge in your stewards account. They consist of a communication of the flocci-nauci kind [9]  from Sir Howard Douglas, for which I must request you, thro Gifford, to get a potential frank, – & a packet for Wilberforce, – being an abridgement of the History of the Abolition in Portugueze, which will be printed for circulation in Brazil. [10]  The abridgement is made by Koster – & the printing will be undertaken either by the African Association, [11]  or by Wilberforce himself. – Your pencils shall go in the parcel. [12] 

I have a letter half written to Wynn. [13]  – Good night – And now to correct a proof sheet which has arrived this evening –


Friday 22 [14]  1819

I hope you admire my newly-discovered talents for dealing in the Stocks.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 30 Janry. 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had finally been paid back the £209 he had been persuaded to invest in the Ballantynes’ Edinburgh Annual Register, for which he wrote the historical sections 1810–1813. Bedford was investing the money for Southey in government stocks. However, Southey was never paid for his final contribution to Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813), nor did he receive any profits from his investment. BACK

[3] Quarterly Review, 19 (July 1818) was published on 2 February 1819. Southey’s ‘Inquiry into the Copyright Act’, Quarterly Review, 21 (January 1819), 196–213, and ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398, were delayed. BACK

[4] Probably, Southey’s review of Thomas Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817), Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. BACK

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

[6] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832), for which he was able to reuse a good deal of the historical material he had produced in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808–1811 (1810–1813). BACK

[7] Longman took this advice, publishing a combined second edition of Carmen Triumphale (1814) and Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (1814) as Carmen Triumphale, for the Commencement of the Year 1814: Carmen Aulica. Written in 1814, on the Arrival of the Allied Sovereigns in England (1821). However, they only ventured to print 500 copies. At 93 pages, this edition was slightly longer than the 77-page Lay of the Laureate (1816). BACK

[8] Longman did not take up this suggestion. BACK

[9] An abbreviation of the nonsense word ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’, meaning to estimate as worthless. BACK

[10] Henry Koster’s abridgement and translation into Portuguese of Thomas Clarkson’s History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave–Trade by the British Parliament (1808). BACK

[11] The African Institution (1807–1827), of which Wilberforce was a leading member. BACK

[12] Keswick was a centre of pencil manufacture because of the nearby graphite mines in Borrowdale. Southey had presumably bought some pencils as a gift for Bedford. BACK

[13] Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 27 January 1819, Letter 3237. BACK

[14] 22: ‘22’ written over ‘21’. BACK