2792. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 May 1816

2792. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 May 1816⁠* 

My dear G.

When the large paper copies are bound, [1]  take care that the prints are properly placed, for they are misplaced at present. The Entrance to Hougoumont should face p 69. [2]  The Ruins p 70 this print shewing the Chapel; & the interior of the Ruins p 71 – for it shews the Dove-cot. [3]  In my copy also let the Church [4]  be in its place to front p. 51. rather than as a frontispiece, – it will then be in sight when it is wanted.

I have been trying to add <introduce> some optative stanzas into the Epilogue [5]  to please your reverence, – but have not as yet succeeded. Your objection to the line about the Throne & the Altar seems very futile – The Angel of the Church speaks, – & the Devil is in it if He may x not take it for granted that this Church is the true one! [6]  – One of your corrections was needed, & I have in consequence put the right spoke in the wheel. [7]  The proofs read well

Wynn tells me the Pilgrimage is the most correct poem that I have yet published. I might as well talk to him about xxxx Orders & Precedents in the H of Commons [8]  as he to me of correctness in poetry: the one thing in these days which is least understood. However I am very glad he likes the poem, for upon such a subject it is coming off with well if you do not dismally disappoint the readers expectation. Longman writes me that there are 571 copies left, which are likely soon to go. Now if you review me at all it must be for the next number; [9]  for we must make hay while the Sun shines, & the Sun shine does not last long; – I mean that the title of the poem will soon be out of date, & all the profit that is to be derived from its subject must be derived speedily; – afterwards it will settle into the slow but steady sale which its merits & my name may insure. So go to work Grosvenor – the thing is soon & easily done. The method <arrangement> of the article is very simple, begin about the Laureateship, – say why it became me to accept it, what was said about my accepting it by the Prophets of Edinburgh & the M Chronicle [10]  &c – & then leave the specimens to show how beautifully their prophecies have been fulfilled, – almost as not less happily in my official productions than these political predictions by <in> the deliverance of Spain & the overthrow of Buonaparte. [11]  The Odes [12]  require nothing but specimens, – & the Pilgrimage & Lay [13]  only a few connect sentences of analysis to introduce quo & connect the quotations.

Regarded as the office was when it was offered to me I it was perhaps a bold thing on my part to accept it. But it will be a bolder for him who the man who comes after me. – I look yet to three more subjects as likely to occur in my time, the birth of a Prince, the death of the King, & a Coronation. [14] 


The last proof is arrived [15]  – You must determine now what is to be done about presenting & whether by Lord Wm Gordon. [16]  He I dare say will like the office, & do it kindly, but not with any sense of the worth of the poem; – looking at it rather as a thing of course, than one which is out of the common.

God bless you


Saturday 18 May


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 21 MY 21/ 1816
Endorsements: 18 May 1816; 18 May 1816./ Recd. 21
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Referring to special presentation copies of The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[2] In the published volume this plate faced p. 58. BACK

[3] In the published volume the ‘Ruins’ faced p. 69 and the ‘Interior view of the Ruins’ faced p. 70. The Chateau d’Hougoumont was the scene of fierce fighting at the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815. BACK

[4] The Church of St Joseph, Waterloo. BACK

[5] The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘Epilogue’. BACK

[6] Apparently Bedford had not been confident that in The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘The Dream’, stanza 51, line 6, Southey had, by the word ‘Altar’, sufficiently identified the Church of England as the institution requiring defence against Roman Catholicism and dissenting Protestantism. BACK

[7] The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘The Dream’, stanza 57, line 1: ‘Thus having spoke, away the Angel past’. BACK

[8] Wynn was acknowledged as an expert on the procedures of parliament. BACK

[9] Southey hoped Bedford would review his Laureate poems in the Quarterly Review, but no such review appeared. BACK

[10] Hazlitt had virulently criticised the once-radical Southey for accepting the Laureateship, e.g. Morning Chronicle, 18 September and 20 September 1813; the Edinburgh Review had been hostile to all of Southey’s laureate productions, beginning with its review of Carmen Triumphale (1814), Edinburgh Review, 22 (January 1814), 447–454. BACK

[11] In the notes to his Carmen Triumphale (1814), Southey lambasted the Edinburgh Review for counselling a policy of peace with Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; Emperor of the French 1804–1814, 1815) and cited his own past predictions that Spain would be liberated from French rule and France itself defeated. BACK

[12] The ‘Congratulatory Odes’ that Southey addressed in 1814 to the victorious allied sovereigns, the Prince Regent, Alexander I (1777–1825; Tsar of Russia 1801–1825) and Frederick William III (1770–1840; King of Prussia 1797–1840). BACK

[13] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816); The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816). BACK

[14] Southey commemorated the death of George III (1738–1820; King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB) in A Vision of Judgement (1821). But he did not have to celebrate the birth of a son and heir to Princess Charlotte, the Prince Regent’s only child, as she died in childbirth; and his ode on George IV’s coronation in 1821 did not progress beyond a few notes; see Huntington Library, San Marino, HM 2733, f. 126r. BACK

[15] Of the Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816). BACK

[16] 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

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