2850. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 October 1816

2850. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 October 1816⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Thank you for the half notes. Had I known the state of my own affairs at the time there would have been no occasion to have written for them. Longmans account up to midsummer xxxx arrived here on Monday, – & for the first time since there has been a current account between us, (which is ever since I first came into this country) the balance is in my favour. The Pilgrimage has produced 215 £ by the first edition, & as this was gone at Midsummer I conclude that a second has been printed, tho it has not been advertised in the Courier, nor in Longmans Monthly List. [1]  – The tide of my affairs seems thus to have turned. – I know nothing of the Lay, neither how many were printed, nor how many have been sold, but I conclude that so much abuse cannot have been without a proportionate good effect, – & your review will give it a lift. [2] 

I am in a hard working humour, & get to my Brazil [3]  before breakfast. The inclination for verse also seems to be returning – Some years ago I wrote to <gave> Wynn a rough outline in a letter, of Oliver Newman; [4]  which he seemed to dislike & consider as an impracticable plan. This opinion had no weight with me, who, as you know, am <as> little inclined to defer to any ones opinion in essential points, as I am ready to yield it in unimportant things. But when I read to him the first canto, he was much struck with it. I tried it upon Rogers [5]  since with good effect, – this reading has revived the train of thought, – the plan meanwhile has been ripening, I scarcely know how, while it has lain almost forgotten, & the spirit moves me to resume it con amore. [6]  Most likely as soon as I am come to a stop in Brazil, – which will be when the appetite fails, & some little difficulty occurs in the way, I shall set fairly upon this; & as soon as I get thro three or four sections (the second is not finished yet) you shall have them, & I shall then fancy myself x in the road to the press. – I found it very difficult to construct the story, – as you may suppose when you hear that my first memorandum for it bears date Jany. 19 – 1811. that the poem was not begun till Jany 4. 1815, & that only 160 lines are yet written, but the story is now well constructed in my own judgement, – the character distinctly conceived, – & some of the situations of as “great capabilities” as could be desired. [7] 

God bless you


11 Oct. 1816


* Address: [in another hand] To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ W.G.
Endorsements: 11 Octr. 1816; 11 Octr. 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo had sold out its first edition of 2000 duodecimo copies and a second edition of 1000 copies had been issued in summer 1816. BACK

[2] Sales of The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816) were slow: the first edition had not sold out by 1825. Bedford did not review the poem in the Quarterly Review. He did draft a review of Southey’s Laureate poems, but this was not published. BACK

[3] The second volume of Southey’s three–volume History of Brazil (1810–1819) was published in 1817. BACK

[4] Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 15 December 1814, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Four, Letter 2516. Southey had discussed the subject with Wynn when he visited Southey in July 1816 and sent him the first book of the poem on 11 October 1816, Letter 2851. Southey never finished this epic set in colonial New England. BACK

[5] Rogers had visited Keswick in August 1816. BACK

[6] ‘For love’ i.e. not in the hope of financial gain. BACK

[7] Southey’s detailed notes and plan are now in the Bodleian Library; the first Book had been completed in mid-February 1815. BACK

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