2724. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 February 1816

2724. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 February 1816⁠* 

Saturday 24 Feby

My dear Grosvenor

Thank you for offering to correct the press, [1]  – but I must see the proofs for two reasons, – first because it is the best opportunity for correcting the poem as well as the press, – & secondly because the pleasure of having a proof sheet is one which I cannot afford to forego. There is plenty of time.

Three stanzas I have told Pople to p allot to the page. At this allowance there will be not less than 100 pages of text, & I shall rather have to select notes than to rummage for them. [2] 

I do not object to births & Bertha in succeeding stanzas. [3]  Because you do I would substitute pair, were there not a word ending in r just before, & another just after. The great art in versifying lies in avoiding faults of this kind which common writers know nothing about.

Nash has made up a drawing of La Haye Sainte. [4] 

I am in the last part, being the third part of the vision – busy with high matter. [5] 

Do learn for me this Leopolds arms, – for I must finish that subject as soon as the present is off my hands. The title will be Carmen Nuptiale or The Lay of the Laureate. [6] 

I trust Herries is out of danger, – relief in such cases being the same xx as cure.

Quoad Jehephary you are right about the conclusion of the second chapter, & I will alter it accordingly. Send the first only to the Times & let it take its chance; [7]  – it may be better to write servicefor <instead of> disservice. [8]  In that paper I think it will be inserted, – or indeed in the Courier – they are not scrupulous about personalities, –

We have frequent complaints over our tea table of the quality of that said Indian weed; – & this often produces a hope that “Mr Bedford has not forgotten the tea.” – You of course always understand that whatever I ask you to do is asked in full trust that you will only do it at your <own> convenient [9]  time & opportunity.

God bless you. Of your mothers health you know better what I must think than I know what to say. Remember me to her most kindly. There is another subject which I have in heart & therefore bear in mind – but I am not sure that this is exactly the time for it. One more God bless you my dear Grosvenor



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer.
Endorsement: 24 Febry. 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Of The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[2] The poem was published with notes, two stanzas per page, in a duodecimo volume of 232 pages, of which 35 pages were notes. BACK

[3] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), ‘Proem’, stanza 11, line 1, ‘births’ was changed to ‘twain’; and ‘Bertha’ retained in stanza 10, line 2. The word before ‘births’ was ‘younger’, and ‘wonder’ occurred just afterwards, making ‘pair’ an inappropriate substitute. BACK

[4] An engraving of La Haye Sainte (a farmhouse that was fiercely contested in the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815) appeared between pp. 62–63. BACK

[5] The sections Southey was writing grew into Part Two of the poem, consisting of no fewer than four sections, ‘The Tower’, ‘The Evil Prophet’, ‘The Sacred Mountain’ and ‘The Hopes of Man’. BACK

[6] On 2 May 1816. Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1790–1865; King of the Belgians 1831–1865) married Princess Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent. The Prince’s arms are described in the epithalamion Southey wrote for the wedding, The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘The Dream’, stanzas 19–21. Southey was particularly concerned about the Prince’s arms because he wanted to reuse sections of the poem he had initially drafted in 1814 for the Princess’s engagement to William, Hereditary Prince of Orange (1792–1849; King of the Netherlands 1840–1849). Comparing the published text with the draft in Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, Box B/414, shows that Southey was fortunately able to change Prince William’s ‘Belgic’ lion into Prince Leopold’s ‘Saxon’ lion as both the royal houses of the Netherlands and Saxe-Coburg used lions as their supporters. BACK

[7] Southey’s parodic attack on Francis Jeffrey, the ‘Book of the Prophet Jehephary’, was, on the advice of his friends, not published in his lifetime. It appeared in John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 35–42. BACK

[8] In the version published by Warter, verse 1 of the second chapter has ‘disservice’: ‘True it is that while the Prince liveth I shall not be Chief Justice, nor wilt thou be made Lord Advocate. But the place of Enemy’s Orator in the great council hath been vacated by the death of our friend Whiteloaf; and I have, by means of certain influence, been appointed to fill it so that I may yet do the state some disservice’, Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, p. 37. BACK

[9] Initially ‘convenience’. Southey had asked Bedford to send him some tea from Twinings tea house in The Strand – a commission Bedford had not fulfilled. BACK

People mentioned

Bedford family (mentioned 1 time)
Nash, Edward (1778–1821) (mentioned 1 time)