2371. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 January 1814

2371. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 January 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick Jany 26 1814

You must well know Mr Grosvenor Bedford that you are an ugly fellow, Mrs Coleridge having informed you that Miss Christian [1]  said so & you must know that you are an ugly correspondent also, for not a line in your handwriting have I seen for more than a month past.

I put together the virile parts which were not deemed unfit for a Pėėls poem, & made them with three additional stanzas into a separate ode, which I sent to Stuart to insert in the Courier. [2]  By the length of time which has elapsed, I conclude that Stuart has left home, & that the letter has not followed him, – otherwise I think he would have inserted it, & I am sure that if he had thought not advisable so to do, he would have written to me. It is a thundering ode, & one of the new stanzas might make one cry out like <as> Cooling [3]  used to do when the Master of the Rolls electrified him. – Voila M. Bedford

By the bones which bleach on Jaffas beach;
By the blood which on Domingos shore
Hath cloggd the carrion birds with gore;
By the flesh which gorged the wolves of Spain
Or stiffened on the snowy plain
Of frozen Moscovy; –
By the bodies which lie all open to the sky
Tracking from Elbe to Rhine the Tyrants flight, –
By the Widows & the Orphans cry,
By the childless parents agony –
By the lives which he hath shed
By the ruin he hath spread
By the prayers which call down curses on his head –
Redeem O France thine ancient fame –
Revenge thy sufferings & thy shame
Pluck from &c [4] 


We have had a severe January here, but the snow tho sufficient to cover hill & vale for about four weeks, has not been so deep as in the south, nor have our roads been blocked up either so often or so long. the longest interruption we have had is just terminated. Sundays & Mondays mails arrived this morning (Wednesday) – & now I hope we shall receive them regularly, tho late. I have suffered the snow to serve as an excuse for my habitual unwillingness indisposition for to locomotion, & am not the better for it: tomorrow however now that it is converted into good wholesome slosh I resume my morning walks. In Clogs I defy all dirt, but snow balls under the wooden sole, & penetrates all shoe leather.

My notes upon the Edinburgh Review made Wynn very angry he said they were disgraceful &c –. [5]  It was obvious that he thought so because his <party> had so far concurred with them in their opinion upon the peninsular war. I of course took all the Cambro-Grenvillian warmth in good part, & smiled at his apprehensions of what the Edinburgh might do against me in revenge. They cannot hate me worse than they do, but they may fear me more. – Wynn has written to Doyle [6]  about Edward. I have had two letters from E. since my return; – it turned out as we supposed that he was not married, – but I d this truth was not accompanied with a plentiful garnish of theatrical falsehood. The trial shall be made to save him, – but I have no hope of its succeeding.

I am finishing the 13th book of Roderick, [7]  which is necessary but of inferior interest, the 12th is of a higher character. I shall soon send them to town. – You shall also see my Inscriptions before they go to press. [8]  – Send me some money as soon as you conveniently can, – for I am in want of it. Ballantyne continues to xxxx xx act like a –– Scotchman, & had it not been for what I received in London I should have been seriously embarrassed, by so sudden a defalcation. He owes me nearly 200 £. – a heavy item for one whose expences keep pace with his means. However it is a great satisfaction to me that the Laureateship has been disposed of as it is; – any temporary inconvenience is amply overpaid by the thought that I have so far made a provision for my family.

Do you see that Drakards advertises in his next paper an account of the Flagellant? [9]  – & as written by some young nobleman & gentleman, – Isaac Reid [10]  had written the history of the book in his copy, – Watson the player [11]  purchased it at his sale, & parted with it afterwards to Hill the Dry Salter: Hill has all sorts of people about him, & among them some who are pretty closely connected with Hunt & the Examiner. In this way it is likely enough that the real story may make its appearance. – & you need not be told how little I care whether it does not or not.

How have your father & mother borne this severe season? – I heard you were to dine at Herries not long since, & concluded from that that they were tolerably well.

God bless you



* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 29 JA 29/ 1814
Endorsement: 26 Jany. 1814
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 341–343 [in part]. BACK

[1] Mary Christian (1759–1831), one of the Southeys’ neighbours at Keswick. BACK

[2] ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, published in the Courier 3 February 1814. This included material deemed inflammatory by Croker and Rickman and deleted from Carmen Triumphale. BACK

[3] A private joke whose subject is unidentified. BACK

[4] A draft of ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, Stanza 8, lines 3–19. BACK

[5] Southey’s notes to Carmen Triumphale; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 15 January 1814, Letter 2364. BACK

[6] Possibly Charles William Doyle (1770–1842; DNB), an officer who had acted as a liaison between British and Spanish forces and had been involved in training Spanish troops. Southey was trying to obtain a commission for Edward Southey in the Spanish Army. BACK

[7] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[8] Southey’s ‘Inscriptions Triumphal and Sepulchral, recording the acts of the British army in the Peninsula’ had been recently advertised as ‘nearly ready for publication’ (e.g. in European Magazine, 65 (January 1814), 77). However, the promised volume did not appear and only 18 of the proposed 30 inscriptions were written. BACK

[9] The radical newspaper proprietor John Drakard (1774/5–1854; DNB), who had launched the Stamford News in September 1809. The Morning Chronicle, 21 January 1814, carried the information that the following Sunday’s Champion would have carry an ‘Account of a Periodical Work named the Flagellant, published in the year 1792, and written by young Noblemen and Gentlemen, Scholars of Westminster School; for his share in which work Mr. Southey was expelled by Doctor Vincent.’ The article appeared in the Champion (6 February 1814), p. 47. It formed part of a series of attacks on Southey spread over several issues: see the Champion (2 January 1814), pp. 413–414 (‘Hint for the Laureat’); (9 January 1814), pp. 15–16 (‘Carmen Triumphale’); and (16 January 1814), pp. 22–23 (a biographical portrait of Southey). BACK

[10] Isaac Reed (1742–1807; DNB), Shakespeare editor, book collector and owner of the European Magazine 1782–1807. He had attempted to prevent Southey’s identity as editor of the Flagellant being exposed in 1792. BACK

[11] Possibly the occasional actor and West Country theatre manager John Boles Watson (1748–1813; DNB). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)