1530. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 November 1808

1530. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 November 1808 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I am ready, desirous & able to bear a part in this said review. [1]  You will however think it odd that the very subject on which you seem to suppose me most able is one which I should rather avoid. I have not the sort of talent requisite for writing a political pamphlet upon the state of Spain, – these things require a xxx <kind> of wire-drawing which I have never learnt to perform, & a xxx <method> of logical reasoning to which my mind has never been habituated, & for which it has no natural aptitude. What I feel about Spain you know, – what I think about <it> is this, – the country has much to suffer, in all probability there will be many & dreadful defeats of the patriots, & such scenes as have never been witnessed in Europe since the destruction of Saguntum [2]  & Numantia [3]  may perhaps be renewed there. Joseph will very likely be crowned at Madrid, [4]  & many of us may give up the cause of Spanish independance as lost. But so surely as God liveth & moveth in the hearts of men, so surely will that country eventually work out its own redemption.

Now Grosvenor, understand me clearly. I could not fill half a score of pages by dilating & diluting this; – but that is I should be a sorry pamphleteer; but I believe my self to be a good reviewer in my own way, which is that of giving a succinct account of the contents of the book before me, extracting its essence, bringing my own knowledge to bear upon the subject, & where occasion serves seasoning it with those opinions which in some degree leaven all my thoughts words & actions. If you had read the Annual Reviews you would comprehend this better by example than I can make you in a letter. Voyages & Travels I review better than any thing else, being well read upon in that branch of literature, better indeed than most men. Biography & History are within my reach, – upon any of these topics I will do my best. It is just proper to mention that there are now before me for the Annual Drurys Madagascar, – Clarksons Hist of the Abolition – Tennants Indian Recreation – & Zouchs Sir P. Sidney. [5]  – Any thing else may be sent me – the Life of Bruce [6]  could not be put into better hands.

You know my way of thinking upon most subjects. I despise all parties too much to be attached to any. I believe that this country must continue the war while Bonaparte is at the head of France, & while the system which he has perfected remains in force, – I therefore from my heart & soul execrate & abominate the peace-mongers. I am an enemy to any farther concessions to the Catholicks. I am a friend to the Church establishment, – not as a Churchman, for I am almost a Quaker, – but because an establishment is now, & long will be necessary, – & the one we have secures toleration to such hereticks as myself. I wish for reform, because I cannot but see that all things are tending towards revolution, & xxx nothing but reform can by any possibility prevent it.

This much is said to you, that it may be said thro you. – To yourself I add that the pay proposed will be exceedingly suitable to my poor finances, & that the more books of travels they send me the better; for that reason. I had almost forgotten to say that if a fit text be sent me the subject of converting the Hindoos is one upon which I am well prepared. It is my belief that they ought to be converted both as a matter of policy & duty, – & as you know I do not suppose salvation to be exclusively attached to any particular faith, you may be sure that this opinion does not proceed from religious bigotry. Claudius Buchanans book [7]  would perhaps be the best text, if it be not too old. One two or three articles I could provide by the end new year. this had better be one, [8]  – Bruce another. The place from whence all parcels should be sent, whether by coach or waggon is the Bull & Mouth. [9] 

Fare well – & God bless you


Nov. 9. 1808.

Kehama is in great glory. [10] 


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Endorsements: Nov 9 1808/ 9 Novr 1808
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ NOV 12/ 1808
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 182–184 [with omissions]. BACK

[1] The Quarterly Review. BACK

[2] In the Siege of Saguntum, Iberia (219–218 BC) Hannibal’s Carthaginian army took the town after severe fighting. BACK

[3] At the Siege of Numantia, in Hispania (134–133 BC) the army of the Roman republic, led by Scipio, destroyed the town after reducing the inhabitants to starvation and cannibalism. BACK

[4] Joseph Bonaparte (1768–1844), the eldest brother of Napoleon, who made him King of Spain (1808–1813). BACK

[5] Southey’s reviews of these books appeared in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809), Robert Drury [(1687–1734?; DNB)], The Adventures of Robert Drury, during fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar; containing a Description of that Island; an Account of its Produce, Manufactures, and Commerce; with an Account of the Manners and Customs, Wars, Religion, and Civil Policy of the Inhabitants: to which is added, a Vocabulary of the Madagascar Language. Written by himself, and now carefully revised and corrected from the original, (1807), 253–263; Thomas Clarkson (1760–1846; DNB), The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament (1808), 127–148; Thomas Zouch (1737–1815; DNB), Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Sir Philip Sydney (1808), 224–235. The review of William Tennant (1758–1813; DNB), Indian Recreations: Consisting Chiefly of Strictures of the Domestic and Rural Economy of the Mahomedans & Hindoos (1808) appeared on pages 658–670. BACK

[6] Alexander Murray (1775–1813; DNB), Account of the Life and Writings of James Bruce ... Author of Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile: in the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772 & 1773 (1808). This was reviewed in the Annual Review for 1808, 7 (1809), 263–270. BACK

[7] Claudius Buchanan (1766–1815; DNB), Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India (1805). BACK

[8] Southey reviewed Periodical Accounts of the Baptist Missionary Society, Quarterly Review, 1 (February 1809), 193–226. BACK

[9] The coaching inn in north London for which mail coaches and wagons left for the north. BACK

[10] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK