3408. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 December 1819

3408. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 December 1819 ⁠* 

My dear G.

This note of Shields [1]  is a curiosity in its kinds, – it is so choicely phrased. – But he is very civil, & I would willingly task myself rather than decline doing what he wishes me to do. If however by a general chorus he means one which is to recur at the end of every stanza, an Ode [2]  must be framed with reference to such a burthen, or else it would be a burthen indeed, – & indeed it would be impossible to fit one to stanzas of such opposite different import as these. If on the other hand, a concluding stanza is meant, more adapted for a “flourish of trumpets &c”, [3]  – I am afraid I cannot find one, – but I will try. – The poem as it now stands is xx xx not a discreditable one; – so far from it indeed, that if I execute the scheme of my visionary dialogue [4]  (upon which my mind runs x) I should introduce them it, – that upon the Princess’s death, [5]  & xxx a few pieces more to be written for the occasion, – which would come in like the poems in Boethius. [6] 

I thought I had explained to you my intentions about my journey. Being sufficiently master of my time, whether I set out a month sooner or later may be regulated solely by my own convenience, so that I xxxxx return with the summer. I have to finish Wesley, [7]  – which will be done in five weeks, taking it coolly & quietly. I have to finish the review of Marlborough, [8]  which will require three weeks, – one of these is my mornings, the other my evenings work. And if I am satisfied about the payment for my last paper, [9]  I shall recast the article upon the New Churches, [10]  & perhaps prepare one other also, in order to be before hands with my Ways & Means for the spring & summer. But if there be any unhandsome treatment, I will not submit to it, – but strike work as bravely as a Radical Weaver, – xxxxxx xxxxx In that case the time which would have been sold to the Maximus Homo of Albemarle Street, will be far more worthily employed in finishing the Tale of Paraguay, [11]  – which has proceeded more slowly than tortoise or sloth or snail, but which as far as it has gone, is good. Indeed I must finish it for publication in the ensuing year, or I shall not be able to keep my head above water. The sum of all this is, that I intend to work closely at home till the end of February, – to pass a few days at Ludlow on my way to town, arrive in London about the second week of March, – pass five or six weeks partly at Streatham, partly in town, – go to Sir H. Bunburys for a few days, & perhaps stretch on into Norfolk for another week, or ten days, – & find my way back to Keswick by the end of May.

A merry Christmas to you. Remember me to Henry & Miss Page. God bless you


Keswick 22 Dec. 1819.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 25/ 19
Endorsement: 22 Dec 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 363–365. BACK

[1] William Shield’s duty was to set to music each year part of the New Year’s Ode produced by Southey as Poet Laureate, though no such odes had been performed at court since 1810. BACK

[2] Southey’s New Year’s Ode for 1820. He had sent the ode, later published as ‘The Warning Voice. Ode I’ in The Englishman’s Library: Comprising a Series of Historical, Biographical and National Information (London, 1824), pp. 381–383, to Bedford on 3 December 1819, Letter 3395. BACK

[3] A standard stage direction. BACK

[4] This plan became Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829). BACK

[5] ‘Funeral Song for the Princess Charlotte’, not published until Friendship’s Offering: a Literary Album and Christmas and New Year’s Present, for 1828 (London, 1828), pp. 1–6. BACK

[6] Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (c. 480–525), De Consolatione Philosophiae, a dialogue between the author and the character of Lady Philosophy, consisting of both prose and verse. BACK

[7] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[8] Southey’s review of William Coxe, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818–1819) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

[9] 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, published 11 December 1819. Southey was in dispute with Murray over how much he should be paid for this article. BACK

[10] Southey’s review of Benjamin Haydon, New Churches, Considered with Respect to the Opportunities they Offer for the Encouragement of Painting (1818) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (July 1820), 549–591. BACK

[11] A Tale of Paraguay (1825). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)