2881. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [21 December 1816]

2881. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [21 December 1816]⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

It goes very ag much against the grain that I should bestow any time in making verses which are to serve no other purpose than that of afflicting Sir Wm Parsons, [1]  – for as you know during three succeeding anniversaries no other use has been made of them: – & time is really of all things that which I can least afford to spare. However more of this a week hence. –

The Grand Murray & I understand each other now – but it was impossible for me, receiving his draft as I did in specified payment for two papers, to understand it in any other way than that he meant to diminish the price which he had offered. [2]  Whether I was hasty in resenting this is another question; – perhaps I was. We have agreed about the book, & part of it ap is to appear in the next Quarterly, at his desire, [3]  – which to me makes only the difference that in this way I secure a certain & ample payment for the labours bestowed upon it. And I shall digest & embody in the book whatever applicable matter I have xxxx xxxx in the Review or Register. [4]  There will be enough that is novel, – & it would be absurd to do say the same things in different language where the alteration must inevitably be for the worse. I shall have a portion ready in a few days, – by the by you will recognise in it that excellent story of Tant pis pour les faits. [5] 

Certes if the G Murray could put me in a way of making half ten thousand pounds in the time which he specifies, – esset mihi not only Magnum Murray, but Magnum Apollo. [6]  – But I will not dream of new undertakings – (tho they spring up like mushrooms while I am writing) – those which are already before me, are in all likelihood more that I shall ever live to accomplish. I am no longer young, – still less have I any of the feeling of youth. I work diligently because I wish to get my work done; – & willingly because I would fain, if it were possible, be unremittingly employed.

You are strangely mistaken about Stoddart, – with whom however I have no other connection than what arose from the desire of assisting his outset. [7]  I should have thought his French Connections were a pretty good proof of what his English opinions must be. Chateaubriand being his main support in the French department, [8]  & all his contributors among what are called the Ultra Royalists. If any farther proof be wanting he is encouraged both by Croker & Canning – But as for me, if I write again for him it can only be a chance article once in twelve month or so, – nothing like regular cooperation, which would be utterly impossible – For if I had all the heads & hands of a Hindoo God there would be avocations enough for them all.

I have settled the business about Herbert Knowles. Rogers gives the one ten pounds, & has got Lord Spencer to give the other. [9] 

There is one work which it I might easily be induced to undertake, because it is more peculiarly my own subject, – a History of English Poetry [10] 

They tell me that one of the pocket books for this new year has a view of this house & of Wordsworths; – buy it for me when you see it. [11] 

Nash is still at Sir Georges

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre-/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 24 DE 24/ 1816
Endorsements: 21. Decr. 1816; 21. Decr. 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: Dating from endorsement. BACK

[1] Parsons, as Master of the King’s Music, was obliged to set the Poet Laureate’s New Year’s odes to music, for performance at court; but this practice had been suspended since 1810 and none of Southey’s three previous New Year’s odes had been performed. Southey had sent Bedford a first draft of the New Year’s ode for 1817 in his letter of 13 December 1816, Letter 2877. BACK

[2] Southey and Murray were in disagreement about remuneration for his contributions to the Quarterly Review. In Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 537–574, Southey reviewed a series of volumes by travellers in England, under the title ‘Works on England’. His review of ‘Ali Bey’ Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818), Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, Between the Years 1803 and 1807 (1816) also appeared in the Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345. Southey expected to receive £100 for each article, but Murray only agreed to £150 for the two. BACK

[3] This pamphlet or book on the ‘State of the Nation’ was not published; instead, Southey wrote on ‘Parliamentary Reform’ in Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278, and the ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’ in Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552. BACK

[4] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808–1811 (1810–1813), for which Southey had written the historical sections. BACK

[5] ‘Too bad for the facts’; Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 236, recounts the story of a French historian who uttered these words when confronted by some evidence that contradicted his views. BACK

[6] ‘He would be not only my Great Murray but my Magnus Apollo – my leader and oracle’; a humorous adaptation of Publius Vergilius Maro (70–19 BC), Eclogues, Book 6, line 104. BACK

[7] 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

[8] François-René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) was a writer and politician who strongly supported the Bourbon restoration in France in 1814–1815. By this time he was associated with the Ultra Royalist faction that wished to return to the royal absolutism of 1789. BACK

[9] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 November 1816, Letter 2866. George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758–1834; DNB), with whom Samuel Rogers was staying when Southey’s request arrived, also contributed. Knowles, however, died before he was able to take advantage of this support at Cambridge University. BACK

[10] Another unrealised project of Southey’s. BACK

[11] Unidentified. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Greta Hall/ Greeta Hall (mentioned 1 time)