2548. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 February 1815

2548. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 February 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 3 Feby 1815

My dear Grosvenor

If this reviewing affair ferrets you & disorders you, the best way to please me is by throwing it behind the fire, & leaving the book to chance. It is sure of being treated with civility, – & you know how little I care about these things. I need no proofs in print of your disposition towards me, nor your feelings concerning the poem. [1]  So discharge your mind upon that score, & mount your horse, & ride over now & then to Streatham, & put yourself in good condition for some mountaineering exploits next summer. I was wondering at your silence, & grumbling when every evening when the letter-woman disappointed my daily expectations. – Ana, is the Guadiana. [2]  Lona [3]  the little river which runs by Orense, – Ponferrada & Villa Franca are the too largest towns places in the Bierzo, [4]  which you the road between Lugo & Astorga crosses it. The Visonia [5]  is one of its mountain streams, hardly to be found in maps. This is merely to satisfy your curiosity, – not for you to make use of, – for I prohibit farther progress in your task.

Tomorrow I send off the conclusion of Lewis & Clark. [6]  You would not alter your opinion of Murray were you to see a letter which I received from him f a few days ago; – but there is hardly any thing in which I differ so much from the public as in toleration. I take men & books as they are, the good that is <can be found> in them is so much gain, – & the bad concerns not me. Murray is a thriving man, he lives in a literary atmosphere, or rath & catches the itch of criticism from those who frequent his room, very few of whom have any better principles of art to proceed upon than himself. He is a good bookseller; that is to say he understands his own interest, & of course he deals with me accordingly. The most important of all literary works to hi in his eyes, is naturally his own Review, [7]  – & considering me as one of his best workmen in that line, he values me in proportion, & thinks that I can never be so well or so worthily employed, as in penning what he calls a chef d’œuvre, for that immortal miscellany! – His letter proposes to me to review a catchpenny life of Ld Wellington, [8]  it must be a chef d’œuvre, <written> con amore  [9]  &c &c – & he actually proposes to pay me 100 £ for three sheets upon this subject. The letter is as coxcombical as need he be, as booksellerish as can be, & yet mixed with all this it has some good sense. I need not tell you that I want 100 £ as much as any body, & laud the Gods for it, – but was there any thing ever so preposterous! when the emoluments which I receive for great & solid works are compared with such a price!

He says nothing more about the Register, [10]  – & I suppose it is one of his ways in trade thus to throw out prospects & proposals as anglers scatter ground bait. No matter; with so much in hand – vœ mihi!  [11]  I am better without new objects.

I take it for granted you received my most miserable ode [12]  & forwarded it to Sir William, Knight of the Fiddle. And I would fain take it for granted that as it has not got into the newspapers, the fiddling ceremony has been dropt – & that the said ode may in due time pass silently to the family vault. The rhymeless ode, which had some thing in it, I shall polish up, & insert in the edition of my minor poems which is now in the press. [13] 

I have thought much upon what you advise respecting Derwent, & believe it the best advice that can be given, – the next question is xx what Office would be most desirable? & xx in what direction must interest be made?

The Moon thanks you for the grammar &c, & says very truly that “it tells more things’ than either of his others – which is very just. He & I are beginning to learn German together; – learning to him is mere sport, & this is the age to have languages put into him.

When you have any money for me I must trouble <you> to pay Hyde for a suit of clothes. [14]  – Good night! I hope to finish Lewis & Clark before supper. Your books then comes in turn. [15]  I am sure you are wrong about Lambs review: [16]  – it may have been faulty in arrangement but I know that no man living writes prose with more exquisite felicity. He complains of having all connection, plan & purpose destroyed by mutilations, – & he instances one <the> alteration of a single word as a specimen of the spirit in which <all> the alterations have been made. It makes the whole sentence stark nonsense. But Gifford is the Devils own sow gelder when he gets a review in his hands. I beseech you continue to secure my manuscripts, as vouchers that I neither contradict myself, nor write like a fool; both of which might most justly <be> inferred from what he sends into the world for me. – One of his ways is to drop a sentence or a paragraph & let ‘therefore’ stand in what follows – In very truth I would rather he reviewed a book of mine in his worst humour than x altered an a paper of mine in his best.

Remember me to all at home & once more good night

God bless you



* Address: To / G. C. Bedford Esqre / Exchequer / Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / 6 FE 6/ 1815
Endorsement: 3 February 1815. Topographical information on the route of Roderick
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Grosvenor Bedford had been commissioned, at Southey’s suggestion, to review Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) for the Quarterly. His article eventually appeared in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 83–113. However, it contained emendations by Southey. See Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. BACK

[2] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 1, line 165. BACK

[3] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 4, Line 89. BACK

[4] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 4, line 90. BACK

[5] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 4, lines 65, 97; Book 5, line 239; Book 7, line 132; Book 25, line 343. BACK

[6] 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

[7] i.e. the Quarterly Review. BACK

[8] Southey reviewed George Elliott (dates unknown), The Life of the Most Noble Arthur Duke of Wellington, from the Period of his first Achievements in India, down to his Invasion of France, and the Peace of Paris in 1814 (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275. He went on to review a further series of books relating to Wellington in the Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. BACK

[9] ‘A great work written with love’. BACK

[10] Murray had been toying with the idea of taking over the Edinburgh Annual Register and asking Southey to write for it again; see Southey to John Murray, 12 December 1814, Letter 2514. BACK

[11] ‘woe is me’. BACK

[12] Southey’s second attempt at a New Year’s ode for 1815, ‘The palm of peace is won’, which only exists in one draft version, dated ‘29 Dec. 1814’ in his notebook, now Huntington MS 2733, ff. 16v-17r; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 December 1814, Letter 2534. BACK

[13] ‘Ode, Written in December 1814’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), II, pp. 227–238. It was retitled ‘Ode, Written During the War with America, 1814’ in The Poetical Works of Robert Southey, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 221–228. BACK

[14] Hyde (d. 1820) was Southey’s London tailor. BACK

[15] 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

[16] Lamb’s review of Wordsworth’s The Excursion (1814), Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 100–111. Lamb was extremely upset at 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. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)