2769. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 April [1816]

2769. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 April [1816]⁠* 

Wednesday 24 April.

My dear Grosvenor

You remember the two remedies for grief of which Pelayo speaks. [1]  I practise what I preach, & have employed x myself with a power of exertion at which I myself wonder; – taking care so to vary my employments as not for any one to possess my mind too fully. – I take regular exercise, – I take tonics – I eat, drink & sleep. See if this be not doing well. I converse as usual, – or nearly as usual, – & can at times be chearful, – but my happiness can never again be what it has been. Many blessings do I possess – but the prime blessing – the flower of my hopes – the central jewel of the ring – is gone. – An early admiration of what is good in the Stoical philosophy, & an active & elastic mind have doubtless been great means of supporting me, – but they would have been insufficient without a deeper principle – & I verily believe that were no it not for the consolations which religion afford – consolations which in time will ripen into hope & joy, – I should sink under an affliction, – which is greater than any man can conceive. – You best can judge what the privation must be, – & you can but judge imperfectly.

Enough of this. I shall soon find a better mode of at once indulging & regulating these feelings. Upon this subject I have thoughts in my head which will, by Gods blessing, produce good & lasting fruit.

At present one of my daily employments is the Carmen Nuptiale, – which is now nearly compleated. It will extend to about xx 110 stanzas – the same metre as the Pilgrimage, [2]  – which printed in the same manner may run to 70 pages – say three sheets. Its English title The Lay of the Laureate, – which is not only a taking title for an advertisement, – but a remarkably good one. It is for Longman to determine in what form he will print it, & what number of copies – quarto pamphletts I think are not liked for their inconvenient size. [3] 

There must be a presentation copy bound for the Princess. Thro what channel shall I convey it? Lord Wm Gordon [4]  would deliver it for me if I were to ask him – can you put me in a better way? Would Herries like to do it, – or is it proper to ask him?

In a few days I shall send you the mss, – the printing will be done presently. It comes too close upon the Pilgrimage – but – whatever may be thought of it at court – it will xx do me credit now & hereafter. I am very desirous of having compleated it that I may have leisure for what lies nearer my heart.

I will have a copy for Edith, bound exactly like the Court-copy. [5]  What would it cost to have both these printed upon vellum? – more I suspect than the fancy x is worth.

Press upon Gifford my earnest desire that the article of which the first portion accompanies this note, may appear in the present number. [6]  It is of consequence to me, – & the subject is in danger of becoming stale if it be delayed – dwell upon this point. It will be as interesting a paper as he has ever received from me

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/
Endorsements: 1816; 24 April 1816/ Recd. 26 27.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 169–171. BACK

[1] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 14, lines 1–5: ‘Count, said Pelayo, Nature hath assigned/ Two sovereign remedies for human grief; -/ Religion, surest, firmest, first and best,/ Strength to the weak and to the woundéd balm;/ And strenuous action next’. Southey's son Herbert had died on 17 April. BACK

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

[3] The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), a poem in the same Spenserian stanzas as The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), was a wedding gift celebrating the marriage of Princess Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent, to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1790–1865; King of the Belgians 1831–1865) on 2 May 1816. It was published in duodecimo and its 120 stanzas, plus notes, ran to 77 pages. BACK

[4] Lord William Gordon (1744–1823) owned the Waterend estate on the west side of Derwentwater. He was married to Frances Ingram-Shepherd (1761–1841), sister of Isabella Ingram-Shepherd (1760–1834), second wife of the Marquis of Hertford, the Lord Chamberlain. BACK

[5] The copy of The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), no. 2694 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, was described as ‘elegantly bound in morocco, lined with silk, richly tooled, and gilt leaves.’ BACK

[6] In his letters to Bedford of 20 and 22 April 1816 (Letters 2763 and 2765), Southey had requested him to ask Gifford to make space in the next issue of the Quarterly Review for a review by him. The review, of a series of memoirs of the French Revolutionary wars, including the royalist rising in La Vendée, 1793–1796, appeared in the Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 1–69. The subject was still fresh because of the further royalist resistance in the area to the restoration of the Napoleonic regime in 1815. BACK