3331. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 July 1819

3331. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 July 1819⁠* 

Keswick. 19 July. 1819.

My dear G.

I believe I told you that my great labour was compleated. [1]  About a fortnight ago the Preface, Contents &c were sent off to Pople, – one sheet of the notes & tables is still to reach me for correction, & then as soon as the folders & stitchers & binders have done their part, my third volume will duly be delivered at your door. In the character of its materials this work bears some resemblance to Herodotus, [2]  for the mixture of individual adventure, & the much de moribus [3] which it contains. And it will be hereafter to the history of that wide portion of the new world, what Herodotus is to the history of Europe. – A weeks dissipation came in my way after this work was off my hands, & I was engaged in company every day from Monday to Saturday. I am now getting on with a paper for Gifford upon the Monastic Orders, – to introduce as strong an appeal as I can make for the institution which Lady Isabella King is endeavouring to establish: & I shall be able to send off the first portion tomorrow. [4]  Moreover I am again going on <with> Wesley, [5]  who has stood still while I gave my whole time to Brazil, – the sixth sheet of the second volume is now before me. After six months writing for myself & posterity, I must now betake myself resume the less flattering consideration of the xxxx present time, & work at my ways & means. This reviewal will be finished before I start for Scotland. My absence will not exceed a month; [6] xx during the autumn I shall finish Wesley, & write another paper for the QR; – this will bring me into deep water; & I shall not be on the shallows again; while the Peninsular war is in hand. [7]  You will see me just before winter sets in.

Pay the Dog Stars demands upon me, – ask Dunt [8]  the shoemaker (opposite the Admiralty) if he has executed my order for three pairs of shoes, – & if so, pay him for them, – & then remit me the balance at your convenience. So much for business. – I am glad you were pleased with my letter to Cunningham, [9]  – I have given a great deal of such advice in my time. He is certainly an extraordinary man, – of great power & promise. His mss is on the way to London in a parcel for Robert Lovell, who will carefully deliver it. Him I thought better than

I really have no patience with Gov. for permitting the peace of the country & the metropolis to be disturbed by such meetings which do not even pretend xx not to be seditious. [10]  A bill against them would have done the business, – & without such a bill they will go on, till the deluded rabble become rebels & must be treated as such by the military. I have no apprehension of any great mischief from the Smithfield mob, – but txx it is too bad that a few rascals should be allowed to convoke the whole posse of blackguards, & put the city in fear, & ferment, if not in actual danger. Hunt should have been shut up during the suspension of H. Corpus. [11]  But the plain, certain & efficacious means of preventing the progress of this mischief are, – a Bill against seditious meetings & making transportation the punishment for seditious libels, – & repealing Mr Fox’s law [12]  by which in case of libel the Jury are made judges of the law as well as of the fact, – i-e by which they are empowered to decide according to their party-feelings instead of the evidence.

God bless you


Cuthberts arm does not heal after the cow-pox, [13]  – partly I believe from his exuberant spirits & activity of limbs. Otherwise he is in beautiful health, – the very ideal of infantine vivacity & strength.

I join R. at Edinburgh, but do not expect to make any stay there, or to see any body. For I have no acquaintance & shall not put myself in the way of making any. As for J. you may be sure nobody would ask me to meet him, – & if they did I should refuse. He forfeited all claims to xxx courtesy from me when he recommended me for prosecution. [14] 


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 19 July 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

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

[2] Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC), whose The Histories are often considered to be the first work of history. BACK

[3] ‘Concerning customs’. BACK

[4] Southey’s review of Thomas Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817), Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. It dealt extensively with the need for communities to provide support for single women (90–102). Lady Isabella Lettice King (1772–1845; DNB) founded the Ladies’ Association at Bailbrook House, near Bath, in June 1816. It provided a home for orphaned gentlewomen with no income and was duly praised by Southey in his article (96–101). BACK

[5] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[6] Southey toured Scotland with Thomas Telford and John Rickman for six weeks, 17 August–1 October 1819. BACK

[7] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[8] Unidentified beyond the information given here. BACK

[9] Southey to Allan Cunningham, 10 July 1819, Letter 3329. Cunningham had sent Southey his poem ‘The Maid of Eloar’; a much-revised version was finally published in 1832. BACK

[10] A huge meeting in favour of parliamentary reform took place at Smithfield market on 22 July 1819; it was presided over by Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt (1773–1835; DNB). BACK

[11] Habeas corpus, the legal principle that prevented detention without trial, was suspended March 1817–February 1818. BACK

[12] The Libel Act (1792), promoted by Charles James Fox, gave the main responsibility for deciding whether a publication was libellous to the jury in a trial, rather than the judge. BACK

[13] Charles Cuthbert Southey had been vaccinated against smallpox. BACK

[14] Probably a reference to the long aside (usually attributed by Southey to Brougham) in the Edinburgh Review, 18 (August 1811), 420–423n, which had recommended that Southey should be brought before the House of Commons to answer for his criticisms of Whig MPs in the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

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