3367. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before and continued on] 18 October 1819

3367. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before and continued on] 18 October 1819⁠* 

In nomine Diaboli [1] 

What is become of you?

I have a great mind to advertise you in the Hue & Cry, [2]  as lost, stolen or strayed, with a description of your person, taken from Nashs portrait downstairs & aided by Mrs Coleridge’s recollections.

Dumb beast is an expression of pity, – but dumb-dog is an appellation of reproach, of vituperation & of wrath, – & therefore do I dumb-dog thee!

I will abuse thee thro the whole Chriscross row –

Abominable Base Bedford; Careless Detestable Correspondent; Detestable Dapple; Evil Epistolist; False Fellow; Grievous Grosvenor; Hateful, Idle, Jackanapes; Killcrop; Lazy, Monster; Nasty, Obstinate, Pitiful, <Queer> Rascally, SCARECROW! Terrible Ugly Villain! Wicked Xecrable Ysacre & Zany!

I could find in my heart to send for Mrs Coleridge & ask her to help me to abuse you.

What? is the manufactory of paper at a stand, – are their no rags among the Radicals to supply the mills? has the dry season parched up all the ink in the south? – or have the Geese & Ganders entered into a resolution to grow no more quills, as the Reformers <have done> to drink no more gin? [3] 

Well, thought I at Glasgow, as there is no letter from Bedford here, I shall find one when I reach home. [4]  And I have been at home more than a fortnight, – & whether Bedford is above ground or below, in England or in France, or half-seas over, – I know no more than the Man in the Moon.

–––––

It happens oddly enough that I am as much in the dark about every body else in London, & all my own concerns there as about you, not having received a single letter from thence since my return. I found a parcel from Gifford which was a month old. The date gave me a good plea for declining to write a paper on the State of Affairs as he wished me to do. [5]  Of what use is it to prescribe drastics when a parcel of Old Women are afraid to administer them? – And as for alteratives they may be given with better effect thro another medium than in the QR. [6]  – However I have not been idle. Lord Lonsdale has been with me about an Address, [7]  – & I have endeavoured to impress upon him the necessity of two measures, – the repeal of Mr Fox’s law of libel, [8]  – & making transportation the punishment for sedition & blasphemy. I told him also that there would be no more difficulty in carrying whole measures than half ones; for the opposition will be just as violent against one as against the other. – The Address originated here with Calvert & myself, – but this is between you ourselves.

———

Monday 18 Oct.

I see by this days paper that Lord Somerville is dead. [9]  His life might have been thought a better one than mine. Some years ago he sold the property which is entailed upon me, – & I believe it is <not> worth the trouble of Litigation, – to say nothing of the expence. However I must enquire into it.

In justice to my daughter Bertha I must tell you that when she heard my alphabet Abecedarian vituperation of your Abominableness, she said it was a shame, & that I was not right to send it.

I cannot say that my head is perfectly as it should be, tho Edmondson dismissed me from under his hands some four or five days ago. There is still a little hole which does not appear to have skinned over.

Heaven knows what is become of my third volume! [10]  – I am now busy upon Wesley [11] xx of which there is half a volume to write, – & I must moreover work hard for ways & means. Gifford has a curious paper <(the Monastic Orders)> upon the insertion of which in the next number I depend, – as a matter of some consequence. [12]  I xxx shall review Marlboroughs Memoirs [13]  immediately, – & am about to write to Murraylemagne for certain books which will enable me to extend the paper upon the New Churches. [14] 

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ OC 21/ 1819
Endorsements: 18. Octr. 1819; 18. Octr. 18 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 146–148 [in part]. BACK

[1] ‘In the name of the Devil’. BACK

[2] The Hue and Cry, and Police Gazette (1772–present) was a weekly magazine containing details of crimes, suspects and stolen property. BACK

[3] Radicals were urging their supporters to protest against the government by abstaining from buying taxed commodities, such as tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol, so producing a decline in the State’s revenue; see Carlisle Patriot, 6 November 1819, for an account of a local meeting to promote this aim. BACK

[4] Southey had toured Scotland from 17 August until 1 October 1819. For his record of events, see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[5] See Southey to William Gifford, 3 October 1819, Letter 3355. BACK

[6] Quarterly Review. BACK

[7] Following the ‘Peterloo’ Massacre of 16 August 1819, Whigs in Cumberland organised a County Meeting on 13 October 1819 to protest at the local authorities’ actions and send an Address to the Prince Regent. Southey drew up a conservative response – an Address to the Prince Regent denouncing the radicals and calling for curbs on the press. It was not proceeded with, and the government’s supporters in Cumberland produced a more moderate document. BACK

[8] See Southey to William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale, [15 October 1819], Letter 3364. The Libel Act (1792), promoted by Charles James Fox, made juries, rather than judges, mainly responsible for determining whether a publication was libellous. BACK

[9] John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB), agricultural reformer and third cousin of Southey, had died on 5 October 1819. This produced a further round of legal tangles over the Fitzhead estate in Somerset, which Somerville had inherited from his great-uncle, John Cannon Southey (d. 1768). BACK

[10] The third volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819) had been delayed by a missing proof. BACK

[11] The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[12] Southey’s review of Thomas Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817), Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. BACK

[13] Southey’s review of William Coxe, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818–1819) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

[14] Southey’s review of Benjamin Haydon, New Churches, Considered with Respect to the Opportunities they Offer for the Encouragement of Painting (1818) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (July 1820), 549–591. BACK

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