3243. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 February 1819

3243. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 February 1819 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I have nothing to tell you, – unless it be worth telling that the high winds have given our high chimney a shake which has dislocated the upper part: that part cannot be thoroughly repaired while there is any likelihood of frost, – it happened to be so placed that if it should fall it will come into my <our> bed room; – & tho I should be under no alarm myself in such a case (beyond that of the first start) having taken an observation, & ascertained that by the just laws of projectiles, [1]  if it came thro roof & upper story it would miss the bed, – this sort of philosophy which does very well for me, does not do quite so well for my wife. My study therefore must be converted into a bedchamber for her accommodation. – It may be wanted any hour, – it or it may not, for three or four weeks. – I should be in get rid of anxiety pretty well by the help of close employment, – for this is an anxiety that can be put out of mind for the time. But I wish the interval were over.

I have not seen the Magazine of which you speak: but from what you say I suspect that the letters cannot be genuine. [2]  The only German who ever visited me (except Kleinkopff of the Bible Society) [3]  was Dr Spiker, the King of Prussias Librarian, in 1816. [4]  The only foreigners whom I saw last year were a Frenchman, & two New-Englanders. [5]  Your Magaziner therefore must be a fictitious personage.

The girls were disappointed of the Almanachs when the QR. arrived. The last article has no other fault than that it both the wit & the severity are too fine for the subject against which they are directed. [6]  – The paper upon Milmans poem is the best poetical criticism that has appeard in the revi review. [7]  But on the whole there is a xx much rubbish in the number.

Of late I have written nothing but Brazilian history, [8]  – if it were but as profitable as it is pleasant I should desire no other employment. The 65th sheet is now on my desk – so you may suppose I am not very far from the end, – probably about six weeks. The last sheet of the first vol. of Wesley [9]  is also before me: – here the notes have given me a respite, which is now at an end; & I must xxx prepare ‘more copy.’ –

Buy in it in the x threes. I shall then have realized twelve pounds a year; – a good comment this upon Mr Broughams speech wher in which he told x the mob of Westmorland that I was wallowing in wealth. [10]  – Impudent as that slanderer is, I think he has laid himself so completely open by his arrogance, his blunders, & his haste in accrediting any calumnious story, upon the Education-Committee, that if Canning were to put forth his strength against him when the question comes before Parliament, he might disgrace him for ever.

God bless you


Keswick. 8 Feby. 1819.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [illegible]
Endorsements: 8 February 1819; 8 Febry. 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey claimed to have calculated the chimney’s trajectory using the Laws of Motion first outlined in Isaac Newton (1642–1727; DNB), Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687). BACK

[2] Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 4 (January 1819), 396–404, ‘Letters from the Lakes. (Translated from the German of Philip Kempferhausen – written in the Summer of 1818.)’, Letter II (400–404) described the author meeting Southey at Greta Hall. The author was actually John Wilson. BACK

[3] Unidentified. BACK

[4] Samuel Heinrich Spiker (1786–1858). An English translation of his account of his experiences in Britain, including his meeting with Southey, was later published as Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the Year 1816, 2 vols (London, 1820), I, pp. 269–272. Naturally, Spiker was most interested in Southey’s library. BACK

[5] M. Buchot (dates unknown), nephew of Jean-François Ducis (1733–1816), French poet and translator of Shakespeare; and Joseph Green Cogswell (1786–1871) and Edward Everett. BACK

[6] The review of, among other items, A Letter to Sir Samuel Romilly, M.P. from Henry Brougham, Esq. M.P., F.R.S. upon the Abuse of Charities (1818) and the Reports of the House of Commons Select Committee on the Education of the Lower Orders 1816–1818 (chaired by Brougham), which severely criticised the lack of educational provision and highlighted abuses in educational charities, Quarterly Review, 19 (July 1818), 492–569, published 2 February 1819. The reviewer was John Wilson Croker, with a number of helpers. BACK

[7] The review of Henry Hart Milman, Samor, Lord of the Bright City (1818), Quarterly Review, 19 (July 1818), 328–347, by John Taylor Coleridge. BACK

[8] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[9] The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[10] During the General Election contest in Westmorland in 1818, Brougham was reported to have attacked both Southey and Wordsworth from the hustings on 30 June 1818, including the statement that he ‘wished he could respect them in their affluence, which had been more pernicious than their poverty’, The Times, 4 July 1818. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)