3120. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 13 April 1818

3120. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 13 April 1818⁠* 

Keswick 13 April 1818

My dear G.

Is it in your power to obtain letters of introduction to Calcutta for a man whom I am very desirous of assisting.

He is first cousin to Miss Barker, & eldest son to Sir Jere Homfray [1] , – bred up in expectation of a good inheritance (four or five thousand a year) at Eton & at Ch Church, & now at the age of six or seven & twenty, by one of the revolutions of fortune in this up & down world, – he has his fortune to seek. If a good understanding, a sound heart & a manly spirit could ensure success, he could not fail of finding it.

His plans I suppose to be suggested by Mr Wilson, a merchant in Warnford Court, [2]  who married his Aunt, & is a man of great commercial activity & enterprize. He is going to Calcutta “there to be employed by some merchants” – this I understand as meaning that he is to be agent there for some English merchants – but I may not understand him likely. And he says that it will require strong interest to be suffered to remain out, while a requisition from a Merchant there for allowing him to settle is sent home to the Directors. [3]  This clearly implies that he is to employed in the private trade. Had he required interest among the Directors I could perhaps have obtained it thro Harry Inglis, who is one of the most obliging of men. [4] 

Will you ask Courtenay [5]  if he can give {him} any letters of general recommendation. To xxxxxxx xxxx officer I saw him at Boulogne with his father, [6]  & do not know when I have seen a young man who left upon so favourable an impression, – he looked his fortune in the face with such calmness & resolution, – with such a right English spirit. At that time he was treating for some mining adventure in Peru (mines & iron works had been his fathers ruin.) – This is a more hopeful plan. And if he have only common opportunities, I am sure his sense abilities, his prudence & his principles will xxxx enable him to make the best use of them. Unluckily I have not a single acquaintance at Calcutta. But thro Dr Bell I shall obtain a letter for him to the Bishop. [7] 

Thank Courtenay for his pamphlett. [8]  By the bye it came franked by Rosenhagen [9] , & (what never happened to any packet of the numberless ones which I have received before) it arrived with the seal cut, (not broken) & a string round the inclosure to keep it together. It is a very judicious performance – in every way honourable to him, & I am heartily {glad} to see the manner in which both the Courier & the Times notice it, [10]  – for to have attracted notice upon so beaten a subject is a proof of no slight merit. It came to me too late, – nevertheless when the proofs of my paper upon the means of meliorating the lower classes are sent me, I shall put it at the head of the article, & introduce such mention of it as I can. [11] 

Verbeyst was especially charged to write to Rothschild with the books, – according to the written directions which you gave me. [12]  I hope he has heard of them, – for they ought certainly to have reached London ere this time. When I hear of their safety I will transmit some directions concerning binding & furbishing some of the old worthies. Oh the Acta, the Acta, no King most Catholic & most Superstitious ever received a cargo of relics with so much joy, as I shall receive the Acta. [13] 

I hope the MS. of Wesley [14]  came safely to your hands.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 16 AP 16/ 1818
Endorsement: 13 April 1818 pd/ Sir Jer Homfray
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Jeremiah Homfray (1790–1850) was the eldest son of Sir Jeremiah Homfray (1759–1833; DNB), a Welsh ironmaster and speculator in mineral rights, living in Boulogne since being declared bankrupt in 1813. The younger Jeremiah did go out to Calcutta, where he became a leading figure in the development of the Indian coal industry. BACK

[2] Thomas Wilson (1760–1829), whose company traded from 6 Warnford Court, in the City of London. His first wife was Catherine Homfray (1764–1801). BACK

[3] The Directors of the East India Company, which organised and regulated British trade in its Indian colonies. BACK

[4] Inglis’s father, Sir Hugh Inglis, 1st Baronet (1744–1820), was a Director of the East India Company 1784–1813 and Inglis himself was a member of the Commission dealing with the Nawab of the Carnatic’s debts 1814–1830. BACK

[5] Thomas Peregrine Courtenay had previously been a civil servant at the Exchequer, where he probably encountered Grosvenor Bedford. BACK

[6] Southey called on the Homfray family on 12 May 1817, at the beginning of his continental tour of that year. BACK

[7] Thomas Fanshaw Middleton (1769–1822; DNB), first Anglican Bishop of Calcutta 1814–1822. BACK

[8] Thomas Peregrine Courtenay, A Treatise upon the Poor Laws (1818). BACK

[9] Anthony Rosenhagen (1778–1854), a civil servant who was private secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1811–1815. At this time he was one of the three Comptrollers of Army Accounts 1815–1823. BACK

[10] Thomas Courtenay’s A Treatise upon the Poor Laws (1818) was commended in The Times, 28 March 1818, and in the Courier, 30 March 1818, where it was called ‘a profound and philosophical view of this most complicated subject’. BACK

[11] Southey’s article ‘On the Means of Improving the People’, Quarterly Review, 19 (1818), 79–118, began by listing Courtenay’s pamphlet A Treatise upon the Poor Laws in the headnote. BACK

[12] Southey had bought a consignment of books from Jean-Baptiste Ver Beyst (1770–1849), a famous bookseller in Brussels, in 1817, but its arrival was greatly delayed. The banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836; DNB) had been recruited to aid the books’ passage to Britain. BACK

[13] The Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794) was a massive compendium of hagiographies. It was no. 207 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)