3685. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 May 1821

3685. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 May 1821⁠* 

My dear G.

The estate of my consherns in the stwcks ish thish – one hundred bought in 25 Aug 1812, upon which I received the dividends in Nov. 1815. & 325 purchased 27 Apr. 1819, on which none have been received. You cannot receive them without a power of Attorney, I believe. Buy in at present 225. I have a good intention & good prospect of adding enough to this to enable me to remove with convenience if I should find it necessary at the expiration of my second term, three years hence; – & to purchase a place either here or elsewhere.

Your letter is vexatious, it disappoints a hope on which I had counted largely, – & it tells of rascality on one side, & cowardice which does not deserve a better name, on the other, – evils which I perceive very clearly. & against which I have spoken honestly & strongly, & will yet speak if not stronger in a manner that will make it more noticed.  [1] 

Pray ask Murray for the sheets, – bye & bye I shall want them, & therefore the sooner they are in your hands, the longer they may stay there. [2]  The 21st is now on my table. I hope it will do your heart <good> to see that I have spoken of the Whigs in the first chapter, just as an honest historian will do hereafter. I know not whether they mean to publish volume by volume, or wait for the whole, – most probably they will prefer the first method as making quicker returns. & a talk in the world upon each publication.

If you have seen the Dog Star since he rose at Court, he will <have> told you how graciously the K. spoke to him concerning the Vision. [3]  The worst is that this graciousness makes me feel as if I ought to show my sense of it, by writing upon the Coronation. [4]  Have you got for me a book about it? Or may I, with a safe conscience leave undone what I have no inclination whatever to do? If I write any thing it will probably be a sort of Hymn either in couplets, or in lofty blank verse, – with a prelude perhaps about the Abbey. But the time might be much better bestowed.

My musical colleague has written me one of his obliging & fustian epistles to say that the Ode was not performed. [5]  It has mortified him, for which I am sorry; – but it delights me because the Ode will keep for another year, & till it is required I shall not write another for St Georges day – Laus Deo. [6]  If I can be as lucky in the Next New Years Ode, as to write one which will do for any New Year, why then Othellos occupations gone. [7] 

We expect Prester John  [8]  shortly. The Zombi has compleatly disappeared. We have a visitor whom I have named William Rufus, (of Lord Nelsons blood I doubt not) – & there is a fairer one of the same complection on the lawn upon whom I have conferred the name of Danayn le Roux, – but you must read the old romance of Gyron le Courtoys [9]  to know how great a hero Red Danayn was.

I am writing a life of Oliver Cromwell for the QR. [10]  the first part will be sent off in a day or two.

God bless you


Keswick. 11 May. 1821.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/14 MY 14/ 1821
Endorsements: 11 May 1821/ Stocks – Proofs of Pen: War -/ Dogster at Court. – B.D. Odes/ & Cats –; 11. May 1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Bedford had written to Southey on 7 May 1821, conveying the news that he would not be able to visit him in Keswick. Bedford claimed that pressure of business at the Treasury prevented him leaving London, especially the problems arising from the debates in the House of Commons’ Committee of Supply on the government’s estimates for future expenditure. The Whig opposition was pressurising the government to reduce expenditure further, despite the government’s claims that it had exercised the most rigorous economy possible. Southey strongly disapproved of opposition campaigns to reduce government spending and had criticised them on a number of occasions, e.g. Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 207–218. BACK

[2] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 55–58, contained a vigorous denunciation of the Whigs for seeking peace with France. BACK

[3] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[4] Southey wrote a few notes for a Coronation Ode, dated ‘Feby 9. 1821’ in his notebook, now at Huntington Library, San Marino, HM 2733, f. 126r. However, he did not get beyond this and no ode was written for the coronation on 19 July 1821. BACK

[5] As Poet Laureate, Southey feared he would have to compose an annual Birthday Ode (the King’s official birthday was 23 April) and produced the ‘Ode for St George’s Day’, unpublished until Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 258–262. BACK

[6] ‘Praise be to God’. BACK

[7] ‘Othello’s occupation’s gone’, Othello, Act 3, scene 3, line 357. BACK

[8] Prester John, the Zombi, William Rufus, Lord Nelson and Danayn le Roux were cats. BACK

[9] The second part of Palamedes (c. 1235–1240), a French prose romance, is devoted to the adventures of the knight Guiron le Courtois and his companion, Danyn the Red, Lord of the Castle of Malaonc. BACK

[10] Southey’s ‘Life of Cromwell’, Quarterly Review, 25 (July 1821), 279–347. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)