2793. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 May 1816

2793. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 May 1816⁠* 

My dear G

Here are some stanzas to be inserted between Stanzas 3 & 4 of the Epilogue. They go to Pople by this post & I must see a revise of the proof, so that you have time (if no time be lost) to find fault with them. I wrote them to supply the defect of personal good wishes whereof you properly enough complained, – & in this certainly I have not succeeded, – my nature I suppose is not gracious enough. Take them however such as they are. They require a change in the preceding couplet – his song instead of the & who for which. [1] 


He prays that many a year may pass away
Ere the State calls thee from a life of love;
Vexed by no public cares that day by day
Thy heart the <dear domestic> joys of privacy may prove,
And gracious Heaven thy chosen nuptials bless
With all a Wifes & all a Mother’s happiness.


He prays that for thine own & Englands sake,
The virtues & the household Charities
Their favoured seat beside thy hearth may take,
That when the Nation thither turn their eyes
There the conspicuous model they may find
Of all which makes the bliss of humankind


He prays that when the sceptre to thy hand
In due succession shall descend at length
Prosperity & Peace may bless the land
Truth be thy counsellor, & Heaven thy strength,
That every tongue thy praises may proclaim
And every heart in secret bless thy name:


He prays that thou mayest strenuously maintain
The wise laws handed down from sire to son;
He prays that under thy auspicious reign
All may be added which is left undone
To make the realm, its polity compleat
In all things happy as in all things great.


That by the will of thy enlightened mind
Brute man may be to social life reclaimed;
That in compassion for forlorn mankind
The saving faith may widely be proclaimed
Thro erring lands, beneath thy fostering care,
This is his ardent hope, his loyal prayers.


Light strains &c –


I have not altered St Paul, – for in truth I do not see how it can be altered without either losing the specific reference to the thing meant, or unsainting poor Paul, which would be a very unfit thing to do. [2] 

You must now determine what is the course to be pursued with her poem. I think the shortest way is that somebody should present it as unpublished, & ask permission to dedicate it; – if you determine upon this you must tell Pople not to strike off the title page till he hears from you – in order that the dedication may be struck off at the same time. [3] 

God bless you


Hitherto time has done very little towards healing our spirits. [4]  As for my health I cannot yet distinctly distinguish between bodily ailment & the effects of long anxiety, or my present state of mind. To which of these causes a sense of uneasiness in the chest of which I am almost always conscious <is owing> I know not. But you may be sure that I take all imaginable care of myself

19 May 1816.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ 23 MY
Endorsements: 19. May 1816; 19 May 1816/ Recd. 23.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] These changes were made and the verses were inserted in The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘Epilogue’, stanzas 4–8. The changes Southey indicated were made to stanza 3, lines 5–6. BACK

[2] The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘The Dream’, stanza 68, contains a description of the annual service in June at which 10,000 children educated in Church of England schools sang in St Paul’s Cathedral, London. BACK

[3] Southey refers to the presentation to its intended dedicatee, Princess Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent, of his poem The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), written to celebrate her marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1790–1865; King of the Belgians 1831–1865) on 2 May 1816. Once Princess Charlotte’s permission had been granted a new page was added: ‘TO/ HER ROYAL HIGHNESS/ THE/ PRINCESS CHARLOTTE/ THE FOLLOWING POEM/ IS DEDICATED/ WITH PROFOUND RESPECT/ BY HER ROYAL HIGHNESS’S/ MOST DUTIFUL/ AND/ MOST DEVOTED SERVANT/ ROBERT SOUTHEY/ POET LAUREATE’. BACK

[4] Southey’s son Herbert had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

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