1557. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 December 1808

1557. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 December 1808 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Here is my vindication of the Indian Mission packed up on the table, [1]  – but unluckily too late for to days coach – so it cannot reach London before Monday. It is written with hearty good will, & requires no signature to show from whence it came. Now I wish you would ask Mr Gifford, if he thinks it expedient to use the pruning knife, – to let the copy be returned to me when the printer has done with it: because it is ten to one that the passages which he would curtail being the most Robert Southeyish of the whole, would be those that I should like best myself, – & therefore I would fain have the pleasure of putting them in again for my own satisfaction, if for nobody else’s. That Arthur Aiken in the days of his reign (which Heaven be praised is over) actually emasculated half the things I sent him, as clumsily & as mercilessly as a sow gelder performs his operations

I must still confess to you Grosvenor that I have my fears & suspicions as to the freedom of this review, – & this article will in some measure put it to the proof. For it is my nature & my principle to speak & write as earnestly, as plainly, & as straight to the mark, as I think & feel. If the Editor understands his own interest he will not restrict me. A review started against the Edinburgh, will instantly be suspected of being a ministerial business, & a sprinkling of my free & fearless way of thinking will win friends for it among those very persons most likely to be prejudiced against it, & to be misled by the Scotchmen. The high orthodox men both of church & state will always think as they are told, – there is no policy in writing to them, – the Anti-Jacobine & British Critic are good enough for their faces of brass, brains of lead, & tongues of bell-metal, I shall not offend them, – tho my reasoning appeal to better hearts & clearer understandings. – I would say this to him if I knew him, – but I do not desire you to say it, because I do not know how far it might suit the person to whom it x relates.

Spain! Spain! – By the God who made me, were the resources of the nation at my command I would stake my head upon the deliverance of that country & the utter overthrow of Bonaparte. But good God what blunders – what girlish panics – what absolute cowardice is there in our measures! – Disembarking troops when we ought to send ship after ship full as fast as they could be put on board. It is madness to wait for transports – – send ships of the line, & let them run singly for Lisbon & Cadiz & Catalonia xxx Nothing can ruin Spa the Spaniards, unless they feel the misconduct of England – as I am grieved to say – I feel it. It is the more heart breaking – because the heart of England is with these noble people, we are not only ready – willing & able to make every effort for them, but even eager to do it, – & yet all is palsied by plans so idiotic that the horse whip were a fitter instrument of punishment for them than the halter, if it were not for their deadly consequences

God bless you


Dec. 20. 1808.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Endorsement: Decr 20. 1808.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ DEC 23/ 1808
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 198–200 [with omissions]. BACK

[1] Southey’s review of Periodical Accounts of the Baptist Missionary Society, Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

People mentioned

Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 2 times)
Aikin, Arthur (1773–1854) (mentioned 1 time)