2771. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 April 1816

2771. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 April 1816⁠* 

26 April. 1816. Keswick

My dear Grosvenor

Thank you for the half bills. – Herbert died on the 17th, & he was in the tenth year of his age. – Say nothing more than this. [1]  How much does it contain to me & to the world how little!

I have great power of exertion, & this is of signal benefit at this time. My mind is closely employed throughout the whole day, – I do more in one day than I used to do in three. Hitherto the effect is good, but I shall watch myself well, & be careful not to exact more than the system will endure. I have certainly gained strength, – but as you may suppose every circumstance of spring & reviving nature brings with it thoughts that touch me in my heart of hearts. Do not however imagine that I am unhappy – I know what I have lost, & that no loss could possibly have been greater, – but it is only for a time, – & you know what my habitual & rooted feelings are upon this subject.

It is not unlikely that Gifford will do for me in this number what he has done by me in others, – displace some other persons article to make room for mine. [2]  He will act wisely if he does so, – for the freshness of the subject will else evaporate. I shall finish it with all speed upon this supposition. It would surprize you were you to see what I get thro in a day.

The remainder of the proofs might as well have been sent me. Surrounded as I am with mementos, – there was little reason for wishing to keep these at a distance. And however mournful it must ever be to remember the proem; & the delight which it gave when the proof sheet arrived – I am glad that it was written, – & Edith feels upon this point as I do. – The proofs had better come to me, if it is not too late. [3]  I can verify the quotations which it is impossible for you to do, – & may perhaps add something.

Tell Pople I shall be obliged to him if he will make some speed with the history of Brazil: that I find it impossible to comprize it in two volumes, – a third there must be, but it will go to press as soon as the second is printed, & that there will be no delay on my part (that is as far as man can answer for himself) till the whole is compleated. [4]  I send a portion of copy in the frank which covers this. If I mistake this second volume will be found very amusing as well as very curious.

The Edithling returned from Wordsworths this morning, – we missed her greatly, & yet her return was a renewal of sorrow. Her mother behaves incomparably well; – it is not possible that any mother could suffer more, or support her sufferings better. She knows that we have abundant blessings left, – but <feels that> the flower of all is gone: And this feeling must be for life. – Bitter Bitter as it is it is wholesome.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 26. April 1816/ Recd. 29.th
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 171–173. BACK

[1] A notice of Herbert Southey’s death appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine, 119 (June 1816), 566. It read: ‘April 17. At Greta–hall, Keswick, aged 9, Herbert, only son of Robt. Southey, esq. Poet Laureat, a boy of uncommon promise, having at that early age obtained, in a great degree, a proficiency in English, Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, and German!’ Bedford, therefore, certainly exceeded Southey’s wishes. BACK

[2] Gifford did make room for Southey in the next issue of the Quarterly Review, 15 (April 1816), 1–69, where he published Southey’s review of a series of memoirs of the French Revolutionary wars, including the royalist rising in La Vendée, 1793–1796. The subject was still fresh because of the further royalist resistance in the area to the restoration of the Napoleonic regime in 1815. BACK

[3] The proofs of The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). In his letter to Bedford of 18–[19] April 1816 (Letter 2761), Southey, stricken by grief over the death of his son Herbert, had asked Bedford to correct the final proofs of the poem, especially as the ‘Proem’ recorded Southey’s joyful return to Keswick in December 1815, after his journey to the Low Countries. BACK

[4] Pople printed Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) in three volumes. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)