2923. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 February 1817

2923. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 February 1817⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

This poor wretched paper-hanger has sent me another letter [1]  because I did not reply to the first. Men are too prone to xxxxx importunity & plea for take offence at importunity, – finding anger a less uncomfortable emotion than pity: this indeed it is, & for that reason I scold my wife & my children [2]  when they hurt themselves. As to this unhappy man I hope you have sent him the two pounds, – it will do him very little good, – but it is really as much as I can afford to give him for the xxxx <the> sake of the name, – & a great deal more than I ever got by it.

If you have seen the New Times you will perceive how wrongly you judged of Stoddart, [3]  – for whom however I beg you will understand that I am no farther interested in than as believing him a man of right principle, very usefully & industriously employed. He sent me the first number; – his talents are just suited to such work, – he can write with equal fluency upon all temporary subjects, always with words at command, in any quantity, & sometimes with considerable force. The tide seems to be turning & if Government will but check the press things will soon right themselves. In this part of the country I hear that travellers (the bagmen) collect their money more easily than in their last rounds, & receive more orders. – A fellow was selling Cobbetts twopenny Register [4]  & other such things at Rydale the other day, – it was, or appeared to be a sailor, & his story was, that he was going to Whitehaven, & a gentleman had given him these to support himself on the road by selling them.

In grief & in uneasiness I have often caught myself examining my own sensations as if the intellectual part should xxxx could separate itself from that in which the affections predominate, & stand aloof, & contemplate it as a surgeon does the sufferings of a patient during an operation. This has happened to me <I have observed> in the severest sorrows that have ever befallen me. – but it in no degree lessens the suffering. And whenever I may have any serious malady this habit, do what I may to subdue it, will tend materially to impede or prevent recovery. But in petty vexations it has its use. – Would they are xxx xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxx xx xx deserve I was more vexed than I ought to have been about this publication of Wat Tyler: [5]  – for tho I shook off the xxxx first thoughts, or rather immediately began to consider it in the right point of view as a thing utterly unimportant, still there was an uneasiness working like yeast in my abdomen;– & my sleep was disturbed by it for two nights, – by that time it had spent itself, & I should now think nothing more about it, if it were not necessary to determine how to act. Wynn will find the thing more full of fire & brimstone perhaps than he imagines – & yet perhaps the wiser way will be not to notice it & <but> let it pass as a squib, & an imposition. Indeed I could laugh about it with any person who was disposed to laugh with me. I shall hear from him again tomorrow, & probably shall receive a letter from Turner by the same post. Turner has a cool clear head; – I have very little doubt that they will coincide in their opinion, – & be it as it may I shall xxx xxxx xxx it act accordingly

God bless you


19 Feby. 1817


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 22 FE 22/ 1817
Endorsement: 19 February 1817/ Paperhanger – New Times & Stoddart/ W. T.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 244–246 [in part]. BACK

[1] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 February 1817, Letter 2919. John William Southey (dates unknown), a paper hanger and stationer, whose shop in 1794–1798 was at 35 Bedford Street, Covent Garden, had delivered a letter to Southey in c. 1797–1798 which had been misdirected to him. He had gone bankrupt in 1809 and had written to Southey asking for money. It is possible that he was from Somerset and a very distant relative of Southey’s. BACK

[2] Southey’s daughters, Edith May, Bertha, Kate and Isabel. BACK

[3] John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB). Stoddart was editor of The Times 1814–1816, until dismissed at the end of 1816 for the intemperate Toryism of his articles. He had just become the first editor of the pro-government New Times (1817–1828). BACK

[4] In November 1816, by removing news items but by retaining comment, Cobbett had avoided stamp duty on his weekly journal, the Political Register (1802–1835), thus reducing its price to two pence, and so reaching a wider readership. BACK

[5] In 1794 Southey had sent James Ridgway (1755–1838), and Henry Symonds (1741–1816), radical booksellers then in Newgate prison, a copy of his Jacobin drama Wat Tyler; see Robert Southey to Edith Fricker, [c. 12 January 1795], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, Part One, Letter 123. Ridgway and Symonds did not publish it and it remained in manuscript until a pirated publication, designed to embarrass the now anti-Jacobin Southey, appeared in 1817. Having taken advice from Rickman, Wynn and Turner, Southey launched a suit in Chancery so as to gain an injunction suppressing the publication. BACK

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