2561. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 1 March 1815

2561. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 1 March 1815 ⁠* 

1. March 1815

My dear Grosvenor

Roderick, a Bishop of Toledo finished his history in 1243 & he says that the tomb at Viseu had been discovered lately – modernis temporibus –  [1] 

The change xx <in> the Vision tells badly when reduced to a mere caput mortuum, [2]  perhaps you had better quote the passage at length from ‘Thus he cried – to in moonlight & in silence; – it will occupy little more than a page in the review & you may allow yourself three or four such lengths with a safe conscience. [3] 


Siverian has no suspicion of Roderick. The voice disturbed him because he xxxx but with no definite recollection; – & what he was afraid of in revealing in secret hope was that it might be treated as an utter impossibility, – that he might & his & the consolation which he desired from it destroyed. In the last book he exclaims Blind that I am I knew not till now. [4] 

The objections to the 22d Book may very well. I reply to them only quoad [5]  yourself. They may as well-stand as any other objections, & better than all some which might happen to be better founded.

Here I think the Pussiygonial part of my reply may end


I received Mr Robertss book [6]  a few days only ago only – since I wrote to you. – Doubtless I ought xto thank him for it, & I will tell you in your ear why this has not been done. First because of the sin which besets me of procrastinating that which I do not immediately feel that the power of doing as it ought to be done; & secondly because of a lurking desire & hope that I might be able to gratify him & myself by some verses to his sons memory in the form of an Inscription for a tablet at Oseney. [7]  This, as you know, is a form of composition of which I am very fond. If I succeed you will soon hear of this, – do not mention it lest I should xxxx fail. [8] 

If the Quarterly should be delayed beyond another fortnight can you send me thirty pounds by that time, – & receive for it what will be coming to me for the article on Lewis & Clarke? [9]  I endorsed a bill to that amount which has been protested & I x have been obliged to take it up. The drawer is a Commander in the navy – a relation of Ediths, – who wintered here <in Keswick>, & who has nothing worse about him than a leaden lining to his skull; so that I have no apprehension of losing the money; but a very great one that I may not be able to find him out as soon as is expedient; or that being found out he may not be able to reimburse me <directly>, finding him upon such terms with his agents: [10]  By good fortune there arrived some money just at that time to place Hartley at Oxford, – & from him I borrow for the immediate exigency, – but he must set off in three weeks or sooner; & I had fully expected that the Review would be out before that time, if your letter had not shown me that it will certainly be delayed later till a later day.

I can say nothing of my future movements. If this ear of the childs should heal, & I should easily be taught to expect that this, seeing that it gives her no annoyance, I should probably not travel Southward till I could be sure of going on to my intended French expedition; – & if I had not almost as habitual a reliance upon the Bank of Faith as Breeches Huntingdon himself, [11]  the thought of such an expedition would never have entered into my head. But xxxxx in all money <in> matters I have of expenditure I am conscious of that sort of improvidence which is common to gamblers, journeymen manufacturers, & men of precarious income, – or might whose proverb is Spend & God will send. It is tempered in me by all my personal habits, – but when books come in my way, or any thing which is to gratify an intellectual appetite, then am I a spendthrift. If my journey were extended to Spain, I could make it pay for itself. Two months in the peninsula would suffice, – three would amply do. But this I fear would exceed your tether, & I will not go without a companion

Your Butler is a good Butler. [12] 

I should have sent this packet yesterday, but Wordsworth made his appearance here on Monday, & left me this morning. His White Doe [13]  is in the press.

God bless you



* MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] i.e. ‘recently’. Southey is referring to Rodrigo Jimenez de Rada (c. 1170–1247; Archbishop of Toledo 1209–1247), De Rebus Hispaniae (1243). He used this Latin quotation in his note to Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 25, line 587. 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, as this letter demonstrates, many emendations and suggestions by Southey himself. BACK

[2] Literally a ‘dead head’, i.e. something useless. BACK

[3] Bedford finally decided to quote Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 3, lines 194–259, at 92–93 of his review. BACK

[4] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 25, line 332, ‘Blind that I was to know him not till now!’. BACK

[5] ‘with respect to’. BACK

[6] 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. Mr Roberts had sent Southey a copy bound in red morocco leather and with gilt leaves; no. 2371 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Osney Abbey, a ruined house of Augustinian canons, now in a suburb of Oxford. Roberts had collected material for a ‘Note on Oseney Abbey’, Letters and Miscellaneous Papers, pp. 127–139. BACK

[8] Southey eventually succeeded, but the poem was not published until it appeared as ‘Written in an unpublished Volume of Letters, and Miscellaneous Papers … With a Memoir of His Life (London, 1814), by Barré Charles Roberts’, Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 157–159, where it is mis-dated ‘Keswick, 1814’. BACK

[9] 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

[10] Captain Thomas Perkins (1778–1815), a cousin of Edith’s. Southey did lose the money; see Southey to Thomas Southey, 16 March 1815, Letter 2573. However, as Perkins died at Dover on 3 April 1815, he may have been prevented from repaying Southey because of ill-health, rather than as part of a fraud. BACK

[11] The preacher and religious writer William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), whose God the Guardian of the Poor and the Bank of Faith (1785–1802), describes how Providence assisted his early preaching career by supplying him with food, clothing and all else he needed, including (pp. 70–72) a pair of leather breeches. Southey later condemned Huntington’s account as unparalleled ‘in the whole bibliotheca of knavery and fanaticism’ (Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 482). BACK

[12] ‘The Butler’ was a comical epic hero invented by Southey and Grosvenor Charles Bedford. BACK

[13] Wordsworth’s The White Doe of Rylstone (1815). BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)