3438. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 February 1820

3438. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 February 1820⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

When you see Gifford (& when you go near his door, I wish you would make it a reason for calling) will you tell him that among the many persecutions to which, like himself, I am exposed on account of the Q.R. there is one from Sir Howard Douglas, [1]  concerning whose book I wrote to him some three or four months ago. I very much wish he would get Pasley [2]  to review that book. It would hardly require more than half a dozen pages; & I believe the book deserves to be brought forward, as being of great practical importance. If as I apprehend, it shows that we are as much superior to the French in the most important branch of war in theory, as we have proved ourselves to be in the field, the work which demonstrates this ought to be brought prominently into notice, – more especially as the notoriety which the Q.R. may give to Sir Howards refutation of Carnots theories, may tend to prevent our allies, from committing errors the consequence of which must be severely felt, whenever France is able to resume her schemes of aggrandizement.

Am I to thank you for the Gazette which came on a day when the news of the Kings death [3]  would not otherwise have reached me?

Do you know that one of those London publishers who are rogues by profession is now publishing in sixpenny numbers a life of the King by Robert Southy Esqre [4] printed for the author, “observe to order Southys Life of the King to avoid imposition.” – J. Jones Warwick Square is the ostensible rogue, – but the anonymous person who sent me the first number says “alias Oddy”. [5]  – I have sent a paragraph to the Westmorland Gazette [6]  which may save some of my neighbours from being taken in by this infamous trick, & have written to Longman to ask whether it be advisable that I should take any farther steps. He must be the best judge of this, & if he think I ought to apply for an injunction he will hand over my letter to Turner by whose opinion I shall be guided. – The scoundrel seems to suppose that he may evade the law by misspelling my name.

The death of the King will delay my departure two or three weeks beyond the time which I had purp intended for it. For if I do not finish the poem which I must of course write, my funeral before I leave home, my funeral verses would not appear before the coronation. [7]  In my next letter I shall probably horrorize you about these said verses, in which I have made some progress.

I am looking daily for proofs of Marlborough from Gifford. [8]  If he does not insert it in the next number, I shall be exceedingly distressed for money, for I never was so much behind hand as at this time. – The Megistos has sent me a present of some of his new books & a civil note – whereupon I wrote to him, & mentioned my dialogues – [9] 

I have about a fortnights work with Wesley, [10]  – not more; – & not so much, – if this sort of holy days task had not come to interrupt me. I versify very slowly, unless very much in the humour for it, & when the passion of the past carries me forward. This can never be the case with task verses. However as I hope not to go beyond two or three hundred lines, [11]  & imagine that at any rate a fourth part is done, I shall not be very long about it. If I manage the end as well as I have done the beginning I shall be very well satisfied with the composition.

All well, thank God, at present.

God bless you


Keswick. 11 Feby 1820.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 14 FE 14/ 1820
Endorsement: 11 Febry 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 18–20 [in part]. BACK

[1] General Sir Howard Douglas had sent Southey some of his papers to aid in the History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). The book in question was Douglas’s Observations on the Motives, Errors and Tendency of M. Carnot’s System of Defence (1819), which offered a detailed critique of Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot’s (1753–1823) classic work on fortifications, Traite de la Défense des Places Fortes (1810), on issues such as the effectiveness of vertical fire by defending forces. BACK

[2] Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), military engineer, whose Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810) was much admired by Southey. At this time Pasley was Director of the School of Military Fieldworks at Chatham and had given Southey a practical demonstration of some techniques of besieging and defending fortifications on 9 May 1817. Pasley did not review Douglas’s book for the Quarterly Review. BACK

[3] George III (1738–1820; King of Great Britain 1760–1820; DNB) died on Saturday, 29 January 1820. His death was announced in an Extraordinary issue of the London Gazette on Sunday, 30 January 1820. BACK

[4] Authentic Memoirs of Our Late Venerable and Beloved Monarch, George the Third … by Robert Southy, Esq. (1820) BACK

[5] If J. Jones was fictitious, the publishers may have been Samuel August Oddy (1779–1847) and Henry Oddy (1782–1847), booksellers and printers, specialising in maps. They had previously had premises at 20 Warwick Lane, but had gone bankrupt in 1815; see Southey to Messrs Longman and Co, 8 February 1820, Letter 3434. BACK

[6] ‘Some memoirs of the late King are now publishing in sixpenny numbers, and stated on the cover to be written by Robert Southy, Esq., with this farther notice, “observe to order Southy’s Life of the King to avoid imposition.” We are authorized to assure our readers that this is an impudent imposition; in which Mr. Southey’s name is used for the purpose of deceiving country purchasers, and misspelled in the hope that the fraudulent publisher may be enabled to evade the law. Other newspapers, we trust will insert this notice as an act of justice to the individual on whose reputation the fraud is practiced; and as one means of checking a species of swindling which is now become frequent’, Westmorland Gazette, 12 February 1820. BACK

[7] A Vision of Judgement (1821). Southey managed to ensure its publication before the coronation of the Prince Regent as George IV, but only because this event was delayed until 19 July 1821. BACK

[8] Southey’s review of William Coxe, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Original Correspondence; Collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and Other Authentic Sources. Illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans (1818–1819) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (May 1820), 1–73. BACK

[9] Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829), published by Murray. Southey announced the project to Murray on 1 February 1820, Letter 3429. BACK

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

[11] As usual, Southey underestimated his task; A Vision of Judgement (1821) was over 600 lines long. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)