2932. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 March 1817

2932. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 March 1817⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

A line or two, – if no more. First in reply to Hebers question, – Herbert Knowles stands no longer in need of any earthly assistance. [1]  The poor boy is removed to a better world, just when fair prospects were opening upon him in this. I have informed Rogers of this, & he will inform Lord Spencer.

As for my Uncle Wat [2]  I shall now leave Turner & the Docstor to settle the matter as they think best, & give myself no concern about it, farther than that of paying what expenses may be incurred. If I write a book, [3]  – which perhaps depends more upon you & the Grand Murray than upon myself, perhaps I will prefix a tender Epistle Dedicatory to Brougham upon the subject. [4] 

I do not like the account of your knee. Fail not to let me know how the swelling goes on, – or rather I hope how it goes off.

All I can now do before my journey to town is to compleat two papers for Grand Murrays Grand Review, – one, upon Mariner & Capt Burney, – the other a portion of the Book if it ever comes to a book. [5]  This, with a few interludes of xxxx needful occupations will be as much as I can accomplish in the next five weeks, – at the end of which I start, & after staying a week with Tom on the way, I shall proceed straight for town.

I have a letter from Gifford urging me to proceed in writing political articles. – My Uncle [6]  may be left for the Edinburgh, [7]  – if any notice were taken of it in the Q. it should be at the end of your review, [8]  – but I am altogether indifferent about it. It is for those who have ever concealed their opinions to be ashamed of them

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 6 MR 6/ 1817
Endorsement: 3rd March 1817/ Death of Herbert Knowles/ Epis. Ded. to Brougham – W.T.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 November 1816 (Letter 2866): in response to a letter from the schoolboy Knowles, enclosing verse and requesting assistance, Southey solicited money from Bedford and his London connections so as to enable Knowles to become a student at St John’s College, Cambridge. Bedford being unable to procure sufficient funding, Southey turned to Samuel Rogers, who provided a third of the sum needed. George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758–1834; DNB), with whom Rogers was staying when Southey’s request arrived, also contributed. Knowles, however, died before he was able to take advantage of this support at university. BACK

[2] In 1794 Southey sent James Ridgway (1755–1838) and Henry Symonds (1741–1816), radical booksellers, then in Newgate prison, a copy of his Jacobin drama Wat Tyler; see Robert Southey to Edith Fricker, [c. 12 January 1795], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part One, Letter 123. Ridgway and Symonds did not publish it and it remained in manuscript until a pirated publication, designed to embarrass the now anti-Jacobin Southey, appeared in 1817. Having taken advice from Rickman, Wynn and Turner, Southey launched a suit in Chancery so as to gain an injunction suppressing the publication. BACK

[3] Southey was considering writing a book on the ‘State of the Nation’, based on his Quarterly Review articles. This project was not undertaken. BACK

[4] Brougham had responded to the publication of Wat Tyler by attacking Southey in a speech in the House of Commons on 24 February 1817, comparing the government’s unwillingness to prosecute Southey for writing this radical work with its determination to pursue other reformers. BACK

[5] Southey reviewed, among other books on the Tonga islands, John Martin (1789–1868; DNB), An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean, with an Original Grammar and Vocabulary of their Language (1817) in Quarterly Review, 17 (April 1817), 1–39. This book told the story of the ship’s boy William Mariner (1791–1853) who lived in the Tonga islands from 1806 to 1810 after the local people attacked his ship and killed his crewmates. Southey also discussed in the same review Burney’s A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean; Illustrated with Charts and Plates (1816); his article ‘Rise and Progress of Popular Disaffection’, Quarterly Review, 16 (January 1817), 511–552, was intended to be part of his book on the ‘State of the Nation’. BACK

[6] Southey’s nickname for Wat Tyler (d. 1381; DNB), leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, referenced his family connections: his mother’s mother, Margaret Bradford (1710–1782) had married firstly William Tyler (1709–1747), and Southey had no fewer than three uncles with the surname of ‘Tyler’. BACK

[7] Wat Tyler was reviewed in Edinburgh Review, 28 (March 1817), 151–174. BACK

[8] Wat Tyler was not reviewed in the Quarterly Review. BACK