3752. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 1 December 1821

3752. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 1 December 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 1 Dec. 1821

My dear Grosvenor

First I thank you for the half-notes, – secondly again & again for the trouble that you take in my concerns. The account is all right – but xx you have either forgotten to charge the Westminster stewardship demand, – or my credit on that score is suffering at Willis’s. [1]  I dare say the former is the case. Thirdly when you settle my account with Joseph Locke, [2]  who is the veritable Locke on the human understanding tell him from me that Boot & Shoe maker does not sufficiently designate him on his cards, – for he ought to add Corn factor.

If you have the Edinb: Ann: Register you may see some home truths stated in the third volume concerning the conduct of Government toward the persons in its employ. [3]  Your statement is of a piece with the rest. I shall bear it in mind in my Colloquies, [4]  – some of which it will not be long before I shall forward to you.

You may rely upon it (doubt or deny it who will) that Lord Grenville has desired situations for CWWW. [5]  Fremantle [6]  Frankland Lewis; [7]  & that the sole difficulty it is to find one high enough for his honour. He has not hinted any thing of this to me, – which he would do quite as soon as to Phillimore. My authority (which it is better not to repeat) is Lord Lonsdale, – who likewise told me that the Ministry are desirous of strengthening themselves by new connections, & had spoken <to> the King accordingly; & he desired that the matter might rest till his return from Germany: [8]  desiring however that he might not have Canning [9]  proposed to him, for he thought himself ill used by his resignation when he had asked him to continue in office.

I had a letter from W Westall yesterday. He says nothing about the conveyance of the drawing hither. [10]  This evening I must write to him. He has set his heart upon this scheme, from the pure desire of serving me, & with a feeling that xxxx it is not fitting this sort of respect should be paid to other living poets & not to me. The Longmen set their faces against it, because they thought it would not answer, & therefore declined engaging in it; & of course they are unwilling to have their opinion disproved. Just as the Whigs were that Lord Wellington should defeat the French. I care about it only on Westalls account. (By the bye I do not see that you have paid him for the Lake Views [11]  which were to go to America?) & if he is bent upon the adventure, & can find no other person to share in it I should have some money to dispose of in the spring, either from the Pen. War, or the B. of the Church, [12]  or both & may as well risqué it in that way, as put it in the funds. But this must be entirely secret between ourselves, – you are the only person by whom I should chuse it to be known.

The girls [13]  thank you for the Almanacks. If Murray has not sent off our copies of Dobrizhoffer, [14]  they may come in that parcel.

Yesterday I received a rich present of old, odd books from Landor, about threescore volumes which he had picked up in Italy, some of them of great value. They have made me idle ever since they arrived, – & now I must conclude, or there will be no time for the other letters which I have to write by this post.

So God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 1 Decr. 1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 228–229. BACK

[1] Southey had been persuaded by his uncle, Herbert Hill, to share the role of Steward (i.e. bear part of the expenses) for the annual meeting of Westminster School ex-pupils in London. This took place at Willis’s Rooms in King Street, St James’s. BACK

[2] Unidentified beyond the information given here. Southey goes on to make a double pun: firstly on the philosopher John Locke (1632–1704; DNB), An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) and secondly on a ‘corn factor’, both a dealer in corn and someone whose boots produce corns. BACK

[3] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), 211–215, especially Southey’s declaration that ‘The emoluments of office almost in every department, and especially in all the highest, are notoriously inadequate’ (212). BACK

[4] Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829). BACK

[5] Negotiations had started in June 1821 to bring the followers of Lord Grenville, including Wynn, over to the government. Wynn was their most prominent spokesman in the House of Commons and it was always intended he would receive a Cabinet post. However, Wynn wished to be Home Secretary or Secretary for Ireland and for there to be a wider reshuffle, including moves to include some Whigs. He did not finally take up the post he had initially been offered, President of the Board of Control, until January 1822. BACK

[6] William Henry Fremantle (1766–1850), MP for various seats 1806–1827 and whip of Lord Grenville’s supporters in the House of Commons. He finally became a Commissioner at the Board of Control 1822–1826 and then Treasurer of the Household 1826–1837. BACK

[7] Thomas Frankland Lewis (1780–1855), MP for various seats 1812–1834 and 1847–1855. A supporter of Lord Grenville, he was made a member of the Irish Revenue Commission on 15 June 1821, the first public sign of a possible juncture between the Grenvillites and the government, and held a variety of posts down to 1830. BACK

[8] George IV’s visit to Ireland ended on 3 September 1821, and he had then proceeded to Hanover, of which British sovereigns were also rulers, on 27 September, not returning until 8 November 1821. BACK

[9] Canning had resigned as President of the Board of Control in December 1820. He became Foreign Secretary in September 1822. BACK

[10] Richard and William Westall wanted to produce illustrations for Southey’s Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814); these could then be inspected and purchased by readers and bound into their copies of the poem. The result was a set of engravings based on drawings by Richard Westall (1765–1836; DNB) and entitled Illustrations of Roderick, the Last of the Goths. A Poem, by Robert Southey, Esq. from the Drawings of R. Westall R.A. (1824). BACK

[11] Either Westall’s Views of the Lake and of the Vale of Keswick (1820), or one of Westall’s Four Views of Windermere (1821), intended for George Ticknor. BACK

[12] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832) and The Book of the Church (1824). BACK

[13] Southey’s daughters and probably their cousin, Sara Coleridge. BACK

[14] Southey reviewed Sara Coleridge’s An Account of the Abipones, an Equestrian People of Paraguay (1822), in Quarterly Review, 26 (January 1822), 277–323. The book was a translation of Martin Dobrizhoffer (1717–1791), Historia de Abiponibus Equestri, Bellicosaque Paraquariae Natione (1784). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)