2608. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2 June 1815

2608. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2 June 1815 ⁠* 

2d June. 1815

My dear G.

Thank you for the half-notes. [1]  – Send me your journal. [2] 

The state of Roderick is this. The second edition was 1500 copies (larger than I ever printed of a poem before,) two thirds of this impression being gone, the Long Men of the Row have ordered a third edition of 2000 to be printed without delay. [3]  – Madoc also is gone to press, for an edition of 1000. [4]  These books will have acquired a good mercantile value, – just when they cease to be my property. – What is become of your Review? [5] 

I have worked very hard for this number. The Wellington article, as far as the proofs have yet gone, reads better than I anticipated, – for to whisper a secret in your ear, I wish Murray may not discover that he had offered me a most ridiculous price for it. [6]  In fact it is not, & ought not to be, & cannot be possible that I should write better, or take more pains, in proportion to the price which, I am paid. Those articles ought to be paid best, of which the materials are either entirely home-drawn, – or else of so rare a kind that the writer has a monopoly of them. But for such subjects as Nelson [7]  & this of Wellington, – they give me least trouble, require least thought, & excite in me least interest. I hope the Bibliopole of Albemarle Street will not find this out, – nor his Editor either. It would perhaps provoke you to see how the former writes to me about fame, & reputation &c &c as attached to these things: it only amuses me.

You will receive my poems soon. [8]  The abortion for the New Year looks well in printers characters. [9]  Another secret for your ear – I have found out in studying Pindar, [10]  that I could do something more like him than any body has yet done, – Reginald Heber said in a review that nobody resembled Pindar so much as Walter Scott. [11]  They are about as much like, as a Coronation & a field of turnips; – or an Oratorio & a Gooseberry Pie, –.

I want you here, grievously. Here are some chapters of Dr Daniel Dove [12]  which would delight you.

Somebody has whispered a secret in my ear which I will tell you in Latin not of Ciceros school, but of Swifts. [13] 

Socer ure noces rea das apio ne. [14] 

And thereby hangs a tale about Mrs Coleridge, – which you shall have when you come to compare noses. – From noses to necks is no x easy transition. I have found out an ugly swelling upon my own, – just above the collar bone, & on the right of the wind pipe. Edmondson does not know whether it be the muscle itself that is swoln, – or whether something under it protrudes it. It is not a wen, & it is not an aneurism, which I of course thought of. It is not painful, – but I cannot button my collar, & am ordered to use no muscular exertion that I can avoid. At present he applies discutients. I am <do> not remember any strain. At present it is no inconvenience, nor should I have discovered it but for my shirt collar; – but now that it is discovered my finger goes oftener there than it ought to do. Edmondson rather suspects some hydattids under the muscles: in which case he says they will come to the surface & thus suppurate. If the Devil could take them, without taking me too he should be welcome to them. I have already two settlements of them upon my scalp, & a third beginning there.

God bless you



* MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] i.e. half-banknotes – a secure way of sending money in the post, by tearing banknotes in half and sending the two halves separately. BACK

[2] The journal Bedford had kept of his recent time in Europe. BACK

[3] First published in 1814, Roderick, the Last of the Goths went into a second and a third edition in 1815. BACK

[4] Madoc (1805). A fourth edition appeared in 1815. BACK

[5] Grosvenor Bedford had been commissioned, at Southey’s suggestion, to review Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) for the Quarterly. His article, with emendations by Southey, appeared in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 83–113. BACK

[6] Southey had been paid £100 for his review of 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. BACK

[7] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813); an expansion of his article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[8] Minor Poems (1815). BACK

[9] ‘Ode, Written in December 1814’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), II, pp. 227–238. Originally intended for publication in the New Year of 1815, the poem had been suppressed in response to official reaction; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29–30 December 1814, Letter 2533. BACK

[10] The Greek lyric poet Pindar (c. 522–443 BC). Southey was studying Pindar with his son, Herbert, and had bought the 1814 edition of his works by Henry Huntingford (1787–1867; DNB), no. 2245 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Heber’s article on recent translations of Pindar, Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 437–457 (esp. 441). BACK

[12] Southey was sending early drafts of The Doctor (1834–1847) to Bedford. Dr Daniel Dove was the hero of Southey’s only novel. BACK

[13] i.e. in the more visceral manner of Jonathan Swift (1667–1745; DNB) rather than the classical style of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC). BACK

[14] ‘So, Sir, your nose is red as a peony.’ BACK

People mentioned

Wellesley, Arthur (1769–1852) (mentioned 2 times)
Murray, John Samuel (1778–1843) (mentioned 2 times)
Edmondson, John (d. 1823) (mentioned 2 times)
Heber, Reginald (1783–1826) (mentioned 1 time)
Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Sarah (1770–1845) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)