2860. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 November 1816

2860. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 November 1816⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I am inclined to think it would be better to shorten what is said about the Carmen Triumphale, [1]  characterizing it briefly as a th strain of solemn thanksgiving, – & leaving out quotations from it, to make room for one from the Lay at the end which may lead to a good home stroke. I w Could you not quote Stanzas 74–75 78 & then from 80 to the end <(leaving out 79 perhaps)> & then taking it for granted that the readers must feel those stanzas as they ought to do – put the question something in this way. If any man in exercising the part of a public critic were to say of such lines as these that they were like Sternhold & Hopkins [2]  (quoting the words) – such a man if he believed what he said must labour under the most pitiable incapacity; – but if there were a writer who could say this without believing it, – with a secret consciousness that what he was saying was as opposite to truth as it is to common sense – then indeed his xxxx case would be more pitiable. men x are only ridiculous when they play the fool for love, – but when they lose their senses for hatred the malady excites a very different feeling.” – Something to that turn & tune, will touch the sore place, & spoil his breakfast.

As soon as I have finished reviewing Koster, [3]  I have to write a paper for Stoddarts “Correspondent”, – which will be a life of Wesley. [4]  This is for the sole purpose of assisting him in his project. And that done, which it must be by the first of December I shall think very seriously of the spur upon which you have given me, whether the Powers above care about it, or not. I have been chewing the cud upon it, & my general views appear to me so clear & comprehensive & to embrace objects of such importance, – that it is in a fair way of becoming a matter of conscience with me. And if I could fairly embody what I know & think & feel; – I shall hardly stand excused to myself for neglecting it, – or contenting wit myself with dealing it out in shreds & patches, & with such reservations as are necessary to make it pass under favour of Mr Gifford. To speak with full effect I must speak with full freedom. [5]  It seems to me as if by such a work I should live for ever.

God bless you


Keswick 10 Nov. 1816.


* Endorsements: 10 Novr. 1816; 10 Novr. 1816./ Review of L.P. & Life of Wesley for “Correspondent.”
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Like Southey’s letter to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 November 1816 (Letter 2859), this concerns proposed changes to the draft of the review of Southey’s Laureate poems that Bedford was writing for the Quarterly Review (it was not published). Southey suggests shortening quotations from Carmen Triumphale (1814) in order to insert stanzas from the main section of The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘The Dream’. BACK

[2] In the Edinburgh Review, 22 (January 1814), 447–454 (448), Jeffrey had called Carmen Triumphale (1814) ‘a strange farrago of bad psalmody and stupid newspapers ... a base imitation of Sternhold and the Daily Advertiser’. Thomas Sternhold (1500–1549; DNB) and John Hopkins (d. 1570) were translators of the metrical Psalms of David; their version was often bound together with the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and used in Church of England services. BACK

[3] Koster’s Travels in Brazil (1816); reviewed by Southey in the Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 344–387. BACK

[4] In 1817 a new journal was launched, published by Longmans and edited by John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB), who had in 1816 been dismissed from the editorship of the Times for the intemperate Toryism of his articles. It was entitled The Correspondent; Consisting of Letters, Moral, Political, and Literary, between Eminent Writers in France and England; and designed by presenting to each Nation a Faithful Picture of the Other, to Enlighten both to their True Interests, promote a Mutual Good Understanding between them, and render Peace the Source of a Common Prosperity. Southey contributed a sketch of the life of John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB) to the first two numbers (1 (1817), 26–48; and 2 (1817), 157–176). However, the Correspondent lasted only one further number. Stoddart became the editor of a new ministry-supported paper, The New Times (1817–1828). BACK

[5] Southey had been asked to edit a new pro-government journal, but had declined the offer. He was instead thinking of writing a book or pamphlet on the ‘State of the Nation’, in which his work would not be censored, as it might be in the Quarterly Review. BACK

People mentioned

Koster, Henry (1793–1820) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)