2621. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 June 1815

2621. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 June 1815 ⁠* 

24 June 1815

My dear Grosvenor

It is certainly a serious matter when a mans neck is in danger. I hope however that the tumour in mine may be satisfactorily accounted for: upon thinking the case over & over it flashed upon me that it might be a mere enlargement of the muscle produced by position, sitting as you know I do almost continually at my desk xx & (which perhaps you may not know) with my head habitually inclining toward the left shoulder, so as to produce extend that very muscle. (You know how one of my fingers has been deformed by the pressure of the pen.) Upon communicating this to the Docstor  [1]  & Gooch they both agreed that it was the most probable solution, & when I went again to Edmondson & let him compare the theory with the fact, he was satisfied also that I had fallen upon the true cause, & that the thing would give us no trouble. Aneurism it certainly is not, & tho I will not say that I am perfectly sure it may be nothing else (tho I know what it can be) it does appear to me most probable that the only thing to be done is to let out my short collars; & think no more of what is merely a slight deformity in a place where nobody sees it.

Now to the thing most x nearest to the body natural, & next in importance, to wit the covering thereof. Whenever you can rob the Exchequer for me will you make a visit to the egregious Hyde, the Imperator Sartorum, [2]  & pay him for a suit of clothes to which I stand debtor in his book, & tell him to send me a coat forthwith, – a coloured one, of what colour I leave to be decided between him & you, premising only that if in the opinion of two such connoisseurs it be thought I can carry off a drab I should prefer something in the drab line. [3] 

Our bells are ringing as they ought to do, & I after a burst of exhilaration at the days news am in a state of serious & thoughtful thankfulness, for what perhaps ought to be considered as the greatest deliverance that civilized society has experienced since the defeat of the Moors by Charles Martel. [4]  I never feared or doubted the result; but if we had been thus thoroughly defeated in the first battle, the consequences would have been too fatal to think of with composure. & Perhaps enough has been done to excite a revolt in Paris. But I have a strong impression either upon my imagination or my judgement that that city will suffer some part of its deserved chastisement. – The cannon should be sent home & formed into a pillar to support a statue of Wellington in the centre of the largest square in London. [5] 

I am expecting the review daily. [6]  Your hint respecting Marlborough does not accord with my own profes opinion of the subject. I could make nothing of a life of Marlborough. [7]  A battle can only be made tolerable in xxxx narration when it has some thing picturesque in its accidents, scene &c &c – which is not the case with any of Marlboroughs. The only part which I would make valuable would be what related to Louis 14 [8]  & the peace of Utrecht. [9]  – But if the Bibliopole of Albemarle Street were to propound sweet remuneration for the Egyptian story, [10]  he would do wisely. With all his sagacity he turned a deaf ear to the most promising project which ever occurred to me, – that of writing the Age of George 3. [11]  This I will do whenever (if ever) I get free from the necessity of raising immediate supplies by temporary productions. The subject as you may perceive is nothing less than a view of the World during the most eventful half century of its annals, – not the history, but the a philosophical summary with reference to the causes & consequences of what all these mighty revolutions. There never was a more splendid subject, & I have full confidence in my own capacity for treating it. [12] 

Take no farther trouble about Canada. The matter is settled, & the persons in question are now at Greenwich, about to embark [13] 

Did I tell you of the Yankee pamphlett to abuse me for an article in the Quarterly which I did not write & (between ourselves) would not have written? [14]  He talks of my getting drunk with my sack, [15]  – & going to manufacturing dinners. One especial (& just) cause of anger is the expression that “Washington [16]  we believe was an honest man.” [17]  And I am reviled for this in America, when I was consternating the Ld Chamberlain by speaking of Washington with respect in a new years ode! [18]  – Has Longman sent you the Minor Poems? [19]  – The newspapers ought to reprint that ode upon Buonaparte. [20] 

Remember me most kindly to your Mother & Miss Page, – not forgetting the Mag: Rot. How stands your business with the Treasury?

I shall come to town at the fall of the year – if I can, – that is if nothing prevents me then, or sends me there sooner. My new sister is a very old acquaintance whom I remember in arms. – her mother is the very perfection of all that is womanly. You know that when I am in town my object is to see my friends rather than my acquaintance, – the seasons make little difference in this. God bless you my dear Grosvenor. I wish you were here. And I wish I could look forward to the time when I had should have a house near enough London to have one chamber in it known by the name of ‘Bedfords room.’ – Once more God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Postmark: E/ 27 JU 27/ 1815
Endorsement: 24 June. 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 117–119 [in part]. BACK

[1] See Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 2 June 1815, Letter 2609. BACK

[2] The ‘sartorial emperor’ Hyde (d. 1820), was Southey’s London tailor. BACK

[3] Bedford preferred the coloured; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [20 July 1815], Letter 2637. BACK

[4] The celebrations were for the victory at Waterloo (18 June 1815), which Southey compares with the defeat of the Moors by Charles Martel (c. 688–741) at the battle of Tours (10 October 732). Martel’s victory was widely believed to have saved Christian Europe. BACK

[5] On 29 June 1815, the House of Commons approved an address for a monument to commemorate the victory at Waterloo, and the British troops who fell there. BACK

[6] Southey’s reviews of Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55; and 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 did not write a biography of the army officer and politician John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722; DNB), commander during the War of the Spanish Succession 1701–1713. BACK

[8] Louis XIV (1638–1715; reigned 1643–1715). BACK

[9] The series of treaties signed in March-April 1713 that brought to an end the War of the Spanish Succession. BACK

[10] Southey wanted to expand his review of Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55, into a book. He did not do so. BACK

[11] George III (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB). BACK

[12] For Southey’s proposals, see Southey to John Murray, 31 March 1813, Letter 2238. The project never came to fruition. BACK

[13] Southey had asked Bedford for information about emigration to Canada, to assist three troublesome brothers of Mary Barker; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 March 1815, Letter 2580. BACK

[14] The pamphlet was James Kirke Paulding (1778–1860), The United States and England: being a Reply to the Criticism on Inchiquin’s Letters, contained in The Quarterly Review, for January, 1814 (1815). This was a response to the review of Charles Jared Ingersoll (1782–1862), Inchiquen, the Jesuit’s Letters, during a Late Residence in the United States of America; being a Fragment of a Private Correspondence, accidentally discovered in Europe, containing a favourable View of the Manners, Literature, and State of Society, of the United States; and a Refutation of many of the Aspersions cast upon this Country, by former Residents and Tourists. By some Unknown Foreigner (1810), in Quarterly Review, 10 (January 1814), 494–530. The author of the offending Quarterly article, which was highly critical of the United States, was John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB). Southey felt strongly enough about the misattribution to publish a refutation in the Courier (16 June 1815), Letter 2616. BACK

[15] Paulding, The United States and England: being a Reply to the Criticism on Inchiquin’s Letters, contained in The Quarterly Review, for January, 1814 (New York, 1815), pp. 13, 58: the Poet Laureate’s ‘pay and rations … consist of a hundred pounds a year, and a butt of sack. This last, ever since the days of Jack Falstaff, has been supposed to exercise a most potent influence over laureats, by “ascending me to the brain,” and drying up the vapours’; ‘We have produced ample authorities to prove the deplorable extent of this practice of drinking in England, and, if any further example should be wanting, it may be found in the person of our laureat himself, who has sacrificed all the opinions and sentiments he formerly cherished, to the irresistible fascination of a butt of sack, and taken to tippling and scandalizing his neighbours most outrageously’. Further suggestions that Southey was a toper were on pp. 106 and 114. BACK

[16] George Washington (1732–1799), President of the United States 1789–1797. BACK

[17] Paulding, The United States and England: being a Reply to the Criticism on Inchiquin’s Letters, contained in The Quarterly Review, for January, 1814 (New York, 1815), p. 106; quoting Quarterly Review, 10 (January 1814), 524. BACK

[18] Southey’s ‘Ode, Written in December 1814’, first published in 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. The ode’s complimentary references to Washington had alarmed Bedford and Croker, who asked for it to be re-written. Southey had, however, provided a more anodyne, official version for court performance; see Southey and Edith Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 December 1814, Letter 2534. BACK

[19] Minor Poems (1815). BACK

[20] ‘Ode, Written During the Negociations with Buonaparte in January, 1814’; first published in the Courier, 3 February 1814, it was included in Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), II, pp. 217–224. The ode incorporated five stanzas deleted from Southey’s first offical Laureate production, Carmen Triumphale. BACK