3635. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 February 1821

3635. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 February 1821⁠* 

My dear G,

You have bestowed much more thought & trouble upon this Dedication [1]  than any such thing is, or can be worth. I wish I had adhered to the maxim which I so carefully inculcate upon my children in infancy when they happen to hurt themselves that ‘the least which is said, is the soonest mended. The King may perhaps look at the poem, because it is likely to be talked of, but it is not very likely that he will ever waste a thought upon the Dedication. Whether he does xx or not, I never will again.

I do not like your beginning, because I have a great dislike to sentiments & to profound respects when they can be dispensed with & a still greater dislike to indulgent prelections. I do not feel that there is any abruptness in the original beginning. If you do not like munificent in the first paragraph you may say liberal. [2]  In other respects let it stand as it is, you have not mended it, & I cannot & moreover I do not think it worth mending.

Why did you not send me the proof – I might then the more surely have compared the two than I can do now, for I have no copy of what was sent you last – I have only the former one of which it was made. As far as I can compare from that & from recollection the second paragraph is best as it originally stood. The sentence in the third about the improvements in London may be better in yours I do not perceive any other improvement. [3]  My taste would make me rip off every bit of lace & embroidery which you have tackd on.

In the last paragraph the word grateful has no business. [4]  The people are not grateful, & I would as soon call the Queen virtuous, [5]  or the Whigs honest & honourable, as call them so. If you are not satisfied with you it you must send me the proof, tho I shall receive it, with sufficient ill humour, – for x in truth I am provoked to think any portion of time & consideration should be bestowed on such a subject when the form was once got rid of. And I am sure I can make no material change.

The King will very seldom see my face, possibly never again. That I have served his Government in my way, xx xx & am always ready to serve it, he knows & will know. In other things of less moment, I xxx do him the justice to believe that he xxxx takes the will for the deed.

The “clean sheet” of the P. War [6]  may very well pass thro your hands to me, & remain a reasonable time on the way. <I will give directions to this effect when I write to the Megistos.> The proofs cannot wait for this, except when we come to those which I should like Courtenay [7]  & Herries to see. Will you ask Sir R. Kennedy [8]  if he has any papers to communicate? I am working hard at this history.

I wish I could persuade you that a Dedication is like a Court suit; – one there must be, but as no person cares of what the suit is composed, nor whether it is becoming or not, except the man who wears it, so no one will ever look at the Ded with a critical eye, except those persons who will wish to detect in it the common-places of adulation

God bless you


I hope & trust that Gov will prosecute Fellowes [9]  for publishing the Collection of the Queens answers.

Friday 16 Feby. 1821


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [illegible]
Endorsements: 16 Feby. 1821; 16 Feby. 1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Dedication’ to A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), pp. [v]–viii. Bedford and Herries had commented on Southey’s original draft of the ‘Dedication’ and Southey had, in response, written two different versions. Bedford had also produced his own version; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 February 1821, Letter 3625. BACK

[2] ‘Dedication’ to A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), pp. [v], retained ‘munificent’ rather than ‘liberal’. BACK

[3] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), p. vii, ‘Under Your Majesty’s government, the Metropolis is rivaling in beauty those cities which it has long surpassed in greatness’. BACK

[4] ‘grateful’ was not inserted into the ‘Dedication’. BACK

[5] Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821; DNB), George IV’s estranged wife. BACK

[6] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[7] Courtenay had been Deputy Paymaster-General 1807–1811, and had been on the retreat to Corunna in 1809. BACK

[8] Possibly Sir Robert Hugh Kennedy (1772–1840), Commissary-General during the Peninsular War 1809–1814. BACK

[9] Robert Fellowes (1771–1847; DNB), clergyman, philanthropist, author and editor of the Critical Review 1804–1811. A devoted supporter of Queen Caroline, he wrote her replies to the huge number of addresses of support she received. A selection were published as: Selections from the Queen’s Answers to Various Addresses Presented to Her: Together with Her Majesty’s Extraordinary Letter to the King; and an Introduction; and Observations Illustrative of their Tendency (1821). Fellowes was not prosecuted for this work. BACK

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