2915. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 February 1817

2915. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 February 1817⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

On my return from Netherhall this afternoon I found the Quarterly Review, [1]  – a letter from Gifford had previously reached me, he told me that he had been obliged to omit some thing “in pity to the terror of Government.” – he did not however mention half the omissions which he has made, – & to do him justice, I must needs say that he has done all in his power to render the paper spiritless & worthless. As it stands it is a mere pamphlett of the day, holding forth in behalf of ministry, – every thing which could be useful, every xxxxxxxation has been expunged. What ideots are these men, – & what a fool am I to be trammelled with them!

I have a letter from Murray also, – praying that I will give up the thought of embodying my own opinions in a separate work, [2]  & dole them out in the Review, – as the more profitable & more effectual way of getting them into circulation. His letter is four days old & I have not yet made up my mind how to answer it. The sight of the Review however goes far toward determining me, – Gifford dares not speak my opinions, – & for this I do not blame him, – his is rather to be pitied, – or the ministry are to be pitied who dare not ever hear the advice of one of their most strenuous & most disinterested advocates. But what devil is it that makes him garble my sentences as well as my arguments! Look at p 239 – about the Ed. Rev. & Balaam, & see what he has made of the allusion! [3]  I do not write to him upon immediately, because I am really too much offended at these impertinent mutilations. – This matter I thought had been put upon a proper footing. But it shall be so in future; & I will have him distinctly understand that I shall <will> not submit, like a school boy, – to have my compositions corrected in this manner. – Ideots that they are! they call upon me to fight their battles, – & then carefully take off the edge of my sword.

I am angry, & I am vexed, – vexed, that I suffered this paper to go into Giffords hands, instead of pursuing my own straight forward course. Murray is afraid of his Review, – if I arrange & republish these papers he says it will subject the journal to be reviewed, – silly man, as if it could escape attack by any caution – or any cowardice! – He will be the loser by this timidity. And perhaps as the best vehicle for conveying unpalatable truths, & bold speculations, I shall put what I have to say in Espriellas mouth, [4]  & leave men to judge <decide> as they can what is spoken in that character, & what is spoken thro it.

Were I in the proper mood I ought to make fine speeches for the pocket books. – & to tell how Mrs C. has fallen down & bruised her NOSE & cut her tongue, which has ever since been found too large for her mouth, & that she says she cannot bear to keep it within her teeth.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 15 FE 15/ 1817
Endorsement: 12 February 1817/ 2. R. Parlty Reform/ work/ suspended. Mrs C’s tongue
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s article ‘Parliamentary Reform’, Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278 (published 11 February 1817). BACK

[2] Southey intended to use his articles in the Quarterly Review as the basis of a book on the ‘State of the Nation’. This did not materialise. BACK

[3] ‘And we had our wise men of the North, who came forward, like the son of Beor, to take up their prophecy in behalf of the Moabite; but the voice of the country was in accord with its honour and its duty; with its own dearest interests and with those of mankind’: ‘Parliamentary Reform’, Quarterly Review, 16 (October 1816), 225–278 (239–240). Here, Gifford’s editing has obscured Southey’s meaning in his equation of the Edinburgh Review (1802–1929), the leading Whig journal, and its opposition to the Peninsular War, with the story of Balaam, son of Beor, who advised the King of Moab on how the Israelites could be defeated (Numbers 31: 6). BACK

[4] The fictitious Spanish traveller Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, putative author of Southey’s travel narrative, Letters from England: By Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1807). Southey did not write a sequel. BACK

People mentioned

Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 3 times)
Murray, John Samuel (1778–1843) (mentioned 2 times)
Fricker, Sarah (1770–1845) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Netherhall (mentioned 1 time)