2580. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 March 1815

2580. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 March 1815 ⁠* 

25. March 1815. Keswick.

My dear Grosvenor

I have received yours with the ten £, & am in no hurry for more, but when my the next payment is made at the Exchequer I shall be obliged to you to pay Hyde [1]  for a suit of clothes which I had in the summer (coat, waistcoat & pantaloons) – & when you may be going that way I shall also be obliged to you to send from Twinings [2]  24 pounds of 7s souchong, & four pounds of 13/s green.

I cannot but wish M Wellesley were Minister at this time. We want a man capable of acting with vigour abroad & with decision at home; & I do not see what should at this time hinder either him, or the Grenvilles, or both, from coming into power. The war I can contemplate without fear, & even with confidence, – the consequence at home I cannot. On this subject you know what my apprehensions are: there are but few persons who agree with me in believing to how tremendous an extent the principle of disaffection is diffused among the populace; the men in power either are ignorant of the danger, or like the ostrich they shut their eyes to it. Do you remember what the parts were which Gifford cut out of my paper upon the state of the lower orders? [3]  Precisely those which pointed out with most force the danger, & indicated the most effectual means of prevention. The first thing which ought to be done is to make transportation the punishment for seditious libel. That being done, the H Gallery of the H of Commons should be cleard whenever Burdett, or any man like him rose. If they speak out of the house, or print what they have said <in> it, there is no privilege to cover them. Government ought to restrain the license of the press as far as the laws allow them; & to counteract it by as much influence as possible. They are as insecure with a <Jacobine> press arrayed against them, as Louis XVIII [4]  was with an army of Buonapartes soldiers.

Abroad, the prospect is better, tho Buonaparte will find allies in Belgium & in Italy & in Switzerland. Still the great powers are now perfectly aware of his character, & of their own interest. The question is a very simple one, – it is whether you will suffer a Mamaluke Government [5]  to be established in the heart of Europe, & in the most will formidable & restless of the European states. No sophistry can now conceal from the French this plain, that under the Bourbons they were enjoying peace, a regular government, & prosperity, under Buonaparte the whole evil of war, & solely for thro his means. I only fear that they will allow him to act on the offensive, whereas every principle of policy requires that France should be made the theatre of war; – I talk not of the finger of Providence, – but am accustomed to contemplate the moral order of events, which is perceptible to me, upon the great scale, throughout the course of human history. And I felt with indignation that an outrage had been committed against the feelings of mankind when Buonaparte was not merely suffered to live, but honourably provided for as a Prince; [6] . – & that vengeance had not been duly taken upon the ruffians who had faithfully served him in all the abominations which he enjoined. I cannot venture to say what Marshals will follow the fortunes of the King, but I fully believe that Massena, Soult & Suchet [7]  will give in their adhesion to Buonaparte. And if the war in its progress should cut off this generation of ruffians from the earth, as I hope & trust it will, I (who am no Methodist, & far too heretical to subscribe to the Church which nevertheless I would most zealously uphold in the present state of things,) – should certainly see in such a catastrophe a proof of that all-disposing Wisdom, in which I believe & trust.


I must not forget to ask you to learn for me what encouragement Government mean to give for emigrants to Canada. My motive for enquiring is for Miss Barker who has a brother here, a very fit subject for such deportation; & another in Staffordshire who in a better sense, would be a very good one to profit by it. [8] 

God bless you. I am feel certain workings of the spirit towards sending out something in the way of a political ode. By the bye I have recovered Greek enough in teaching Herbert, to be at this time reading Pindar. [9]  Remember me to all at home.


Did you receive a portion of Brazil [10]  thro Murray? – The xxx Printer waits for it.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 28 MR 28/ 1815
Endorsement: 25. March 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

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

[2] The London tea and coffee merchants. BACK

[3] Southey’s article in Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. BACK

[4] Louis XVIII (1755–1824; King of France 1814–1824). BACK

[5] Mamluks were soldiers of slave origin who dominated a variety of States in the Muslim world between the 9th and 19th centuries – hence a military government. BACK

[6] In 1814 Napoleon had been allowed to retire to Elba and keep the title of Emperor, a pension and a private guard BACK

[7] Marshal Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult (1769–1851); Marshal Andre Massena (1758–1817); Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet (1770–1826). Soult and Suchet supported Napoleon in 1815; Massena was neutral. All had been prominent French commanders in the Peninsular War. BACK

[8] Mary Barker’s brother, Frederick Barker (dates unknown) was a constant source of worry to his sister. The names of her two other brothers are unknown. BACK

[9] The Greek lyric poet Pindar (c. 522–443 BC). Henry Huntingford (1787–1867; DNB) published an edition of his poems in 1814, no. 2245 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)