1915. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 May 1811

1915. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 May 1811 ⁠* 

May 3. 1811. Keswick

Dear Grosvenor

Dr Mackie [1]  made his appearance with his daughter last night just as our tea-equipage was removed. They would not tea-ify here having left Mrs M. at Janson’s. [2]  So we walked with the young Lady to the Crag, – returned with her to the Inn and there made our second tea-ification at 8 o clock. This morning the father & daughter breakfasted here, – according to their own arrangement for all advice & invitation on my part proved of no avail. We took them to the Island, & about one they set off for Penrith, Mrs M. having seen nothing & not xxsting having the slightest wish to see more. You will probably receive honourable mention of my xxxx civilities when the Dr writes to you: – they were administered to him as far as words & wishes could enable me, – but why he should have gone out of his way for the purpose of not seeing any thing upon the road I cannot divine. If it was for the sake of seeing me quasi a Lion, I am obliged to him. See me he certainly did, – but as for seeing any thing of me beyond what the outward eye can take in – Μακαιου ηκξσαμεν, εμου δε ξκ ηκξσε Μακαιοx. [3] 

I have just received a Bullion Pamphlet from Herries, [4]  – the work (I suppose) whereof you hinted that he was parturient. Hei mihi! [5]  that I should ever be obliged to understand a question in which I take so little interest & have so little concern!

I have seen Jeffrays reviewal of Kehama, [6]  – it is consistent in nothing but in malice, & that is so palpable that it must defeat its own purpose. Gog is actually ignorant of the commonest principle of versification. – He picks out verses to censure them quoad [7]  their metre, for no other discoverable or possible reason than because the word the is printed at full length in them & not marked with an elision. There is a comfortable mention of the said Gog in a sheet of the Register printed some three weeks ago. Stephen [8]  in a most admirable speech upon American affairs pointed out a lie of the Ed. Review upon concerning the Report of the Committee upon the Orders in Council – this I spoke of as “an instance of that bare faced falsehood which was <is> part of the dishonest & disgraceful system upon which that Journal is conducted”. & then added this qualifying note, “In speaking of the E. Review a distinction should be made between its occasional & its regular contributors. From the former it has sometimes received articles of great value & unexceptionable tendency. Its execrable opinions in morals & politics, its utter ignorance in matters of taste, & above all its characteristic insolence, must be imputed to some of the latter, & more especially to the Editor.” [9]  – If ever I do go to war with xxx Gog it shall be with the tomahawk & the scalping knife. He has fairly emancipated me from any other restraints of language than such as a sense of what is due to myself may impose. But let him pass! I have better employment than that of hunting vermin; & the worst vexation I can inflict upon him is to write on & continue rising in reputation.

The Quarterly has not yet found its way here, – neither has the promised revisal of my own article upon Pasley. [10]  I continue as when last you heard from me labouring at this endless 1809, & apparently as far from the end of my labours as I was a month ago. [11]  It will be a good volume, & so it ought to be, for the additional labour is a dead loss of 150 £s worth of marketable time – at no very convenient season: – i.e. the whole life of Nelson [12]  & two or three articles for Murray, which I meant to have cleard off before my journey, & shall not now be able to touch.

Mr Bunbury is very ill, & not expected to recover. I find he has written to some friend in London, otherwise I should have consulted Edmundson to day about informing his son. Poor man he had just got into his house, – & it is supposed xxx caught cold by so doing.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 6 MY 6/ 1811
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Mackie (1748–1831; DNB), physician. His wife was Dorothea Sophia Des Champs (d. 1819), translator of the Letters of Madame de Sévigné into English. The Mackies had a daughter, Anna Sophia, and a son. BACK

[2] The Jansons were the proprietors of the Royal Oak, Keswick. BACK

[3] ‘We heard Mackie, but Mackie didn’t hear me’. BACK

[4] Herries’ A Review of the Controversy Respecting the High Price of Bullion, and the State of Our Currency (1811). BACK

[5] ‘Woe is me’. BACK

[6] Jeffrey’s appraisal of The Curse of Kehama (1810), Edinburgh Review, 17 (February 1811), 429–465. Gog (the name of a giant) is a swipe at Jeffrey’s lack of height. BACK

[7] ‘with respect to’. BACK

[8] The lawyer, abolitionist and MP James Stephen (1758–1832; DNB), MP for Tralee, 1808–1812, East Grinstead 1812–1815, in a speech of 6 March 1809, defending the Orders in Council which authorised the Royal Navy to prevent American ships trading with French-occupied Europe. BACK

[9] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 1.1 (1811), 406–410. Southey’s words were not printed as he relates them here, though there was reference to the ‘falsehoods’ (p. 410) perpetrated by Jeffrey. BACK

[10] Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810). It was sent to Southey for review but the resulting article was deemed by Gifford to be ‘perfectly incorrect and dangerous’. The version published in the Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 403–457, was, therefore, much altered by Croker, in consultation with Gifford and Murray; see Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. BACK

[11] Ballantyne was concerned enough about the length of the historical section to insist that Southey explained himself to the readers in a prefatory note; see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), [v]–vi. BACK

[12] Southey’s The Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)