2877. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 13 December 1816

2877. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 13 December 1816⁠* 

My dear G.

First here is some doggrel for the Mus. Doc [1]  – which I pray you convey to him, – unless you like to write better doggrel yourself & substitute it. It cost me just what it is worth; – the time which was required for writing it.

Secondly thank you for what you have done concerning Herbert Knowles. [2]  I shall make no scruple of calling upon Heber for his five pounds, he having more than as many thousands a year, – a single man, & living so little in one place, that he can scarcely be said to have an establishment. And if I should come to you for five more, – which I will not if I can help it because you have calls enough, – why you will not grumble. I shall write by this same post to Rogers who is rich, & generous in a princely degree.

Thirdly. I have a letter from Murray, who is very sore: & so he deserves to be. But he is sore also about the Correspondent without any cause, – for in the first place, this journal is no rival of his, not being a review, – & in the next place I never dreamt of doing more than giving it a lift. [3]  You do Stoddart wrong. A fellow by name Barnes, quondam coadjutor to Hunt in the Examiner, has got into the Times, & puts in all the poison there, greatly to Stoddarts discomfort, – who I believe would get out of it, if he could find any other means of employing himself so well for the public & himself. [4] Sir Tarquin [5]  has married his sister, – a worthy couple, – they quarrel, fight, make it up over the gin bottle, & get drunk together. <Stoddart paid him for a paper for his first number, & the said Tarquin has postponed the paper sine die, as might have been expected.>

Quarterly – I write to the Grand Murray concerning the Opus. [6]  The Opus will be more compleat if I embody in it some things from the Review & some from the Register, [7]  – & for the former his persuasion is x necessary. In this case he must be sole publisher, upon my usual terms of half profit. I have a great deal to say, & shall make a noise in the world.

The instance of folly which you tell me is stupendous. Gracious God are there men so little sensible that there is some truth in Jacobinism, – that the inequality, in the degree in which it exists is a real & grievous evil, – & that the Bank is tempting enough to a mob with empty pockets! [8]  – If nothing of more worth than such noodle heads as these were at stake, it would be of very little consequence which way the game went: – I shall make them stare with my book. “Very odd this – some of this is very true, – strange that we should not have thought of it, – a singular man this Mr S. – a little visionary in some things, – but then his principles are excellent.” This thing they will say of the man who says Spend spend & God will send, [9]  – & takes the Bull, – the mad Bull by the horns for them.

What mystery can there be in Christabel; [10]  – more than in any other story which is left half-told?? – half-telling has xxxx excited that <great> interest for Chaucer the Squires Tale, [11]  which to my mind o is one of the least promising in Chaucer. The Christabel is very beautiful, – & you wonder how it would be explained.


How have you misunderstood me about Murray? he offered me 100 £ for an article upon Foreign Travellers. He sent me 105 £ for that article & for Ali Bey; – both being specified in the draft. [12]  On my remonstrance he sent 45 £ more, making 100 for one; 50 for the other. I am no hard bargainer, but I did not chuse to be treated thus. He is very sore, offers largely & talks about friendship. He is a bookseller, – aye every inch a bookseller, & as such I like him well. And writing to him upon business I write more meo [13]  without reserve, but as for the friendship of the concern – pardonnez moi Monsieur! I am very willing to write for his money, – to engage with him as a publisher; – & when it lies in my way to be of any use to him. But my friendships are not made of such materials – nor with such men.

The young ones having learnt from the Courier that there is a book of juvenile calibre about the Lioness & the Exeter Mail, are clamorous for it. [14]  – When you see it in a shop window buy it I pray you, & Rickman will frank it down

Vale Vale [15] 


13 Dec. 1816.


Europe had suffered
Too long in Algiers
The cries of the captives
Their wrongs & their tears: –
Too long had she let
Your marauders go free,
Tunis & Tripoly,
Pests of the Sea


Till the Queen of the Ocean
Aroused by fresh wrong
Awakened the wrath
Which had slumbered too long,
Then did the voice of war
Speak from the deck’s mouth
Liberty! Liberty!
England & Exmouth.


The flag of the Dutchman
Waved there on the wind
That day in its triumph
With the Red Cross combin’d
In faith, & in freedom
And valour allied,
Oh never may Fortune
Their friendship divide!


Hoist the banner of joy
On the rock of Gibralter!
Let Spain sing thanksgiving
And light up the altar
And vows of deliverance
Be rendered in Rome
For England hath sent them
Their prisoners home.


Mothers of Italy
Lift up your voice!
Daughters of Sicily
Sing & rejoice!
Sing the praises of England
The free & the brave;
For England hath broken
The chains of the slave. [16] 



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsements: 13 Decr 1816; 13 Decr. 1816./ with proposed Ode for 1817; Proposed Ode for 1817; Enclosed in ltr from R.S. of 13. Decr. 1816. Proposed Ode for 1817.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 8p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 144–146 [text does not include the ode ‘Europe had suffered’].
Note on MS: the letter included an enclosure, the ode ‘Europe had suffered’. BACK

[1] Parsons, as Master of the King’s Music, was obliged to set the Poet Laureate’s New Year’s Ode to music, for performance at Court, though this event had been suspended since 1810. The poem Southey enclosed was his first draft of the New Year’s Ode for 1817. BACK

[2] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 November 1816, Letter 2866. BACK

[3] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 November and 29 November 1816 (Letters 2865 and 2868), concerning what he felt to be underpayment by Murray for articles in the Quarterly Review. Murray was also annoyed that Southey was contributing an article to a new journal edited by John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB): The Correspondent; Consisting of Letters, Moral, Political, and Literary, between Eminent Writers in France and England; and designed by presenting to each Nation a Faithful Picture of the Other, to Enlighten both to their True Interests, promote a Mutual Good Understanding between them, and render Peace the Source of a Common Prosperity. Southey’s sketch of the life of John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB) appeared in the first two numbers (1 (1817), 26–48; and 2 (1817), 157–176). The Correspondent lasted only one further number. BACK

[4] John Walter (1776–1847; DNB), the proprietor of The Times, had been, since 1815, employing Thomas Barnes (1785–1841; DNB) to tone down the intemperate Toryism of the leading articles written by Stoddart, the paper’s editor. After Stoddart was dismissed, at the end of 1816, Barnes became editor from 1817–1841. He had previously contributed articles to Hunt’s papers, the Examiner and The Reflector. BACK

[5] Hazlitt had, early in 1817, republished a number of his essays for the Examiner in a book with the Arthurian title The Round Table. These included his critical ‘Observations’ on Wordsworth’s 1814 poem The Excursion. In the Arthurian legends, Sir Tarquin was a treacherous knight who fought against his former friends. Southey and Coleridge considered themselves betrayed by Hazlitt, having hosted him at Greta Hall in 1803 and assisted him in escaping from the anger of the townsfolk after he caused a furore in a Keswick inn by spanking a local woman when she laughed at his advances. Hazlitt had married Sarah Stoddart (1774–1843) in 1808; he and his brother-in-law were on very poor terms. BACK

[6] This pamphlet or book on the ‘State of the Nation’ was not published; Southey did, though, write on ‘Parliamentary Reform’ in Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278, and the ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’ in Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552. BACK

[7] Southey had written on contemporary events in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808 to 1811 (1810–1813). BACK

[8] A large pro-reform public meeting was held at Spa Fields, London, on 2 December 1816, addressed by veteran radical Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt (1773–1835; DNB). Some of the crowd, breaking away from the meeting and moving to attack the Tower of London and Bank of England, were confronted by troops at the Royal Exchange. BACK

[9] An old proverb, dating at least to the 16th century. BACK

[10] Coleridge had, after eighteen years, published ‘Christabel’ in 1816, in a volume entitled Christabel: Kubla Khan, A Vision; The Pains of Sleep. BACK

[11] In Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343–1400; DNB), Canterbury Tales the Squire’s Tale is interrupted by the Franklin, who proceeds to tell his own tale. BACK

[12] In Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 537–574, Southey reviewed a series of works by travellers in England, under the title ‘Works on England’. His review of ‘Ali Bey’ Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818), Travels of Ali Bey in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, Between the Years 1803 and 1807 (1816) also appeared in Quarterly Review, 15 (July 1816), 299–345. BACK

[13] ‘In my own style’. BACK

[14] On the night of 20 October 1816 one of the horses pulling the mail coach from Exeter to London was attacked by a lioness which had escaped from a menagerie. The passengers took fright; the horse was injured; and the lioness was captured. The unlikely incident became the subject of prints, newspaper reports and the children’s book, The Blue Caravan; or, the Salisbury Lioness. A Poem for the Nursery (1816). It had been advertised in the Courier, 6 December 1816. Southey requests a copy of it here. BACK

[15] ‘Farewell, farewell’. BACK

[16] On 27 August 1816, in an attempt to put an end to piracy in the Mediterranean and to the enslavement of captured Europeans, an Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth (1757–1833; DNB) bombarded the port of Algiers. The action caused the Dey of Algiers to release about 1200 slaves and to sign of a treaty undertaking to end the practice. BACK

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