2893. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 January 1817

2893. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 January 1817⁠* 

Jany. 4. 1817.

My dear Grosvenor

The Courier of tonight tells me I am elected member of the Royal Institute of Amsterdam; [1]  – now I put it to your feelings Mr Bedford whether it be fitting that a man upon whom honour is thus thrust, should xxx xxxx xxxx <should be without a decent> pair of pantaloons to receive it in, – such however is my condition, & unless you can prevail upon the Grand Hyde [2]  to send me some new clothes without delay: I shall very shortly become a sans-culottes, however unwilling Minerva [3]  may be. Moreover I have promised to pay a visit at Netherhall toward the end of this month, & I must therefore supplicate for the said clothes in forma pauperis. [4] 

The packet wherein this will be inclosed, carries up the conclusion of a rousing paper for Gifford, – which with some omissions, & some insertions will be shaped into the two first chapters of my book. [5]  It will not surprize me if in some parts it should startle Gifford. – Are the Government besotted in security, – or are they rendered absolutely helpless by fear, – like a fascinated bird, that they suffer things to go on. Are they so stupid as not to know that their throats as well as their places are at stake? As for accelerating my movements [6]  for the sake of holding a conversation which would end in nothing, tho I have little prudence to ballast my sails I have enough to prevent me from xxxxx that. All that I possibly can do I am doing, – under a secret apprehension that it is more likely to bring personal danger upon myself than to rouse them to exertion, – but for that no matter; it is proper that the attempt should be made; the country will stand by them if they will stand by the country.

Were I to see one of these Personages & he were to propose any thing specific it would probably be some scheme of conducting a journal a la mode the Anti Jacobine; [7]  this is no work for me. they may find men who will like it, & are fitter for it. I suspect that Stoddart would very gladly quit the Times (where he is perpetually thwarted, & even treated as if there were a wish to oust him) make such a plan worth his while, & there is an experienced editor at hand for them. [8]  I say this merely from what I have reason to believe the case. Not from any sort of predilection, – the sole xxxx <motive> which has brought me in to any intercourse with a man from whom during many years I took no pain to conceal my dislike, – being a sense that he had done good service to the common cause, & deserved well of all who were attached to it.

I think of being in town in April, si possum. [9]  my book peradventure may be ready by that time, – but there is a large field before me, & many weighty subjects. Meantime tho I want nothing for myself & certainly would not at this time accept of anything, I should nevertheless be very glad if they would remember that I have a brother in the navy. [10] 

God bless you.



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ W G
Endorsement: 4 Janry 1817/ Clothes – Stoddart – To town
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 232–233 [in part]. BACK

[1] According to the Courier, 2 January 1817, Southey had been appointed an Associate of the Second Class of the Royal Institute of Science, Literature and the Fine Arts of the Netherlands (founded 1808). The Institute’s headquarters are the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam. BACK

[2] Hyde (d. 1820) was Southey’s London tailor. BACK

[3] ‘Unwilling Minerva’ is a literal English translation of the common Latin phrase ‘Invita Minerva’, meaning ‘without inspiration’, as Minerva was the goddess of poetry. BACK

[4] ‘As a pauper’. BACK

[5] Southey’s article ‘Parliamentary Reform’, Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278 (published 11 February 1817); Southey intended this to form part of a book he was planning on the ‘State of the Nation’. The book did not materialise. BACK

[6] Bedford had conveyed the suggestion to Southey that he should edit a new pro-government journal – a suggestion he had declined. BACK

[7] The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor (1798–1821). BACK

[8] John Stoddart (1773–1856; DNB). Stoddart was editor of The Times until dismissed at the end of 1816 for the intemperate Toryism of his articles. Later in 1817, he became the first editor of the ministry-supported The New Times (1817–1828). BACK

[9] ‘If possible’. BACK

[10] Tom Southey was farming (not very successfully) in Westmorland; but he was still a Captain in the Royal Navy, though he had never commanded a ship. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)