2541. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 January 1815

2541. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 January 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 14 Jany 1815

My dear G

I beseech you try if you can recover the MSS of Lambs Review, which has been <made> the thing it is by Giffords merciless mutilations. [1]  You may remember the old woman at Merida, discovering that we had not drawn the woodcock which was for our supper, – just like that old woman is G as a corrector of my xxx reviewals, & so has he proved to Lamb. [2]  If there be a logical arrangement, he is sure to dislocate it by pulling out the middle joint of the xx every articulated sentence <paragraph>. If there be a felicitous phrase, – & xxx xxxx he is sure to gouge the sentence. – To own the truth I am too angry with him to write to him just now, & shall therefore make my reply thro you. As for his emasculations they must be submitted to, & I have never remonstrated against them; – but he has no business to insert his own opinions in direct opposition & contradiction to mine. He has said for me that as an Englishman I am proud of the general merits of Pope’s Homer. [3]  The only comfort I have is that every person must perceive no man who wrote what follows, could possibly have written that sentence unless he were a stark fool.

He asks what I shall have for him, & this is what I want you to answer for me, – till I shall have ceased to remember this unanswerable & idiotic interpolation. Tell him he shall have part of Lewis & Clark in the course of a week; [4]  – & for the same number Barres book, [5]  & Miots history of the Expedition to Egypt of which Murray has sent me the two editions, [6]  – the latter containing among many various readings, a circumstantial detail of the massacre at Jaffa to which he was eye witness. [7]  Tell him also that I shall review if he pleases Lloyds Alfieri, [8]  – the necessity of my doing it as it imports Lloyds feelings you will very well understand. Perhaps & probably I ha This will not be for the next number, but I may perhaps do something more for it, – you know what makes the mare go, according to the proverb. [9] 


Hartley goes to Oxford at Easter. A Postmastership [10]  at Merton has been promised him – worth not less than 50 £ a year. Lady Beaumont gives an annual 30 £, – Poole 10 £, Cottle 5 £, & his x Uncles at Ottery 40 £. Of his father we know nothing. Derwent is too young as yet for a public office, – but I shall bear your hint in mind & take council concerning it.

Mrs Wilson is as well as can be expected at her years, but we have lost poor Dinah. [11]  She went home to her parents last week, & there is no hope of her recovery. A liver complaint which for the last eighteen months has tormented her, & during the greater part of that has been mistaken for rheumatism is now terminating fatally. An outward abscess has formed, – she has no strength to support the discharge, – & if she had, the disease seems to have extended to the lungs. We are all very much concerned for her.

God bless you


I think of reviewing Jefferys review of Wordsworth (which I have not yet seen) in the Courier. [12]  And giving him such a dressing as he has never yet met with.


* Address: To / G. C. Bedford Esqre / Exchequer / Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / 17 JA 17/ 1815
Endorsement: 14 Janry. 1815
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. 393–394 [in part]. BACK

[1] Lamb’s review of Wordsworth’s The Excursion (1814), Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 100–111. Lamb was extremely upset by the changes Gifford had made to his original; see Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, [28 December 1814] and [7 January 1815], E. W. Marrs Jnr (ed.), The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb: 1798–1817, 3 vols (Ithaca, NY, 1975–1978), III, pp. 125–6, 128–30. However, Bedford, who had seen at least part of Lamb’s MSS, noted it was ‘both feeble and affected’ and much in need of revision; see Grosvenor Charles Bedford to Southey, 1 February 1815, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 52. The fullest discussion of the ‘mutilations’ or revisions, depending on your point of view, is Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. Wordsworth had forwarded Lamb’s letter of 7 January 1815 to Southey, and asked him to recover the MS of the review from Gifford; see William Wordsworth to Southey, [January 1815], The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. The Middle Years. Part 2. 1812–1820, ed. E. De Selincourt, 2nd edn rev. Mary Moorman and Alan G. Hill (Oxford, 1970), pp. 185–186. Southey’s letter to Bedford is an attempt to do just that. He was unsuccessful. BACK

[2] The comparison is between Gifford and an old woman whom Southey encountered at Merida during his first visit to the Iberian peninsula: ‘We had a woodcock for supper, which we trussed ourselves. This did not satisfy the old woman of the house; to our utter disappointment she brought up the poor bird sprawling – told us we had forgot to cut off the rump and draw it, and then poked her finger in to shew us how clean the inside was’, Southey, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol, 1797), p. 237. BACK

[3] Southey objected to Gifford’s insertion of a sentence (‘Of Pope’s Homer we are, as Englishmen, proud to acknowledge the great and general merits’) at the start of his generally critical discussion of Alexander Pope’s (1688–1744; DNB) translation of Homer. The offending interpolation appeared in Southey’s review of Alexander Chalmers (1759–1834; DNB), The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper (1810), Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 60–90 (85). BACK

[4] Meriweather Lewis (1774–1809) and William Clark (1770–1838), Travels to the Source of the Missouri River, and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean (1814), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 12 (January 1815), 317–368. BACK

[5] Grosvenor Bedford’s Letters and Miscellaneous Papers … With a Memoir of His Life (1814) of his cousin Barré Charles Roberts, who had died in 1810 aged 21. It was reviewed by Southey in the Quarterly Review, 12 (January 1815), 509–519. BACK

[6] Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie; the two editions were those of 1804 and 1814. Southey reviewed Miot in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55. BACK

[7] The rape and murder by French troops of the population of Jaffa after the city fell on 3 March 1799. For Miot’s first-hand account, Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (Paris, 1814), pp. 140–148. BACK

[8] Lloyd’s translation of The Tragedies of Vittorio Alfieri (1815); reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 14 (January 1816), 333–368. BACK

[9] ‘Money makes the mare go’. BACK

[10] The name for a Scholarship at Merton College, Oxford. BACK

[11] A servant at Greta Hall. Her surname and dates are unknown. BACK

[12] For Jeffrey’s review of Wordsworth’s The Excursion (1814), see Edinburgh Review, 24 (November 1814), [1]-30. It began: ‘This will never do’ ([1]). Southey did not write his proposed article. BACK

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