2158. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 October 1812

2158. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 October 1812 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Thank you for the half notes. [1]  I wrote immediately upon reading yours such a letter to Dr Bell as may be of use if it be shown at Lambeth, [2]  – which was the end I had in view in writing it. In that quarter, or with the Bp. of Durham, [3]  it might possibly do some good, but I see two things which prevent any sanguine xx hopes on my part, – first that these great personages may be like other great personages very little accustomed to consider of what it <is> right to do with their patronage, – & secondly that Dr B.s heart & head are both so full of one thing – that they have very little room for any thing else. He will see the thing in its proper light, & will wish to promote our wishes, – but there is a great chance of his forgetting it. However I will jog his memory from time to time.

I will try two pair of these iron shoes, – stout mountaineering shoes. For thinner shoes, – i-e – afternoon ones, it cannot be worth while to have the nail-fashion, for the sole always out last the leathers in shoes of house-wear.

I had a visit from Lord Somerville [4]  this morning. – symptomatic that my reputation is rising in the world, – or he would never have volunteered this mark of civility to me after his vile manoeuvres to injure me with John Southey. – I talked with him about Walter Scott & the news of the day, – & received his invitation to visit him in Scotland with very willingly, inasmuch as Scotch Inns are abominations, & I shall make up my mind whenever I visit that country to go Lairding & Lording & Duking thro it.

No letter from Sir Shuffler. I could draw on him at once if I happened to have a stamp, – this however in my next.

You & I agree about the prospect in Russia, & I have the more confidence in my own opinion, because my apprehensions about Lord Cathcarts [5]  news were verified. Buonaparte will now leave his army, thinking that he has done enough for his glory; [6]  – it would not surprize me if the whole of that army should be cut off. Think of wintering in Russia – with the whole population hostile, – & no better quarters than the ruins of Moscow! The conquest of Russia I conceive to be as difficult as that of Turkey, & from xxxx the same cause – the semi-barbarous state of the people, – they are strongly attached to their own customs, & no people behave better when they go to be knocked on the head. & they know that it is a great act of religion to send a Frenchman to the Devil. – It is too late for for Buonaparte to reach Petersburg – he will come home, & France will have to support another drain of her population to keep up a winter war in Russia.

It is plain to me that part of Lord Ws plan has miscarried. He must have meant to intercept Soult, [7]  – or Maitland never would have landed at Alicant. [8]  The sooner M. reembarks the better, – lest the yellow fever should reach him. He should land in Catalonia, & act with Lacy [9]  while Hill [10]  advances upon Zaragoza.

Good night. I am going to steal an hour for Pelayo. [11]  I will send you the beginning first books when the Grand Parleur [12]  resumes his faculties –

God bless you


Oct 16. 1812.

Your godson began to write this morning. You may make a [MS torn] perusal of a Greek exercise book when you please


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 19 OC 19/ 1812
Endorsement: 16 Octr 1812
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Half-banknotes – a secure way of sending money in the post, by tearing banknotes in half and sending the two halves separately. BACK

[2] The administrative centre of the Church of England, and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Southey’s letter was part of a campaign to try and secure a post in the Church of England for Blanco White, see Southey to Bedford, 30 October 1812, Letter 2166. BACK

[3] Shute Barrington (1734–1826; DNB), Bishop of Durham since 1791. He had promoted both the inter-demoninational Religious Tract Society (founded 1799) and the British and Foreign Bible Society (founded 1804). BACK

[4] Southey’s third cousin the agriculturist John Southey, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB). BACK

[5] William Schaw Cathcart (1755–1843; DNB), army officer and politician. He had taken up the post of Ambassador to the Russian court in July 1812. He was actively involved in Russian attempts to resist Bonaparte and sent regular dispatches to the British government. Southey is probably referring to his account of the Battle of Borodino on 7 September 1812. BACK

[6] French troops had entered Moscow on 14 September 1812. However, within a month they were forced to retreat and by 14 December an army weakened by guerrilla attacks, supply problems and the rigours of winter left Russia. BACK

[7] Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult, 1st Duke of Dalmatia (1769–1851), overall commander of the French forces in Spain and Portugal. BACK

[8] Frederick Maitland (1763–1848; DNB). He commanded the army from Sicily that landed at Alicante in August 1812. After achieving very little, Maitland resigned his command in November 1812. BACK

[9] Luis Roberto Lacy y Gautier (1772–1817), commander of the Spanish Army in Catalonia. BACK

[10] The British commander Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill (1772–1842; DNB). BACK

[11] The early name of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[12] The ‘Great Speaker’ i.e. Rickman’s employer, The Speaker. BACK

People mentioned

Bell, Andrew (1753–1832) (mentioned 2 times)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Ballantyne, John (1774–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Wellesley, Arthur (1769–1852) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Herbert (1806–1816) (mentioned 1 time)