3457. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 March 1820

3457. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 March 1820⁠* 

My dear G.

Before I see you, you will receive the Life of Wesley, [1]  whereof only about two sheets remain to be printed. Some persons have expressed their expectations that the book will have a huge sale; – I am much more inclined to think that it will obtain a moderate sale, & a durable reputation. Xx Its merit will hardly be appreciated by any person unless it be compared with what his former biographers have done: then indeed it would be seen what they have overlooked, how completely the composition is my own, & what pains it must have required to collect together the pieces for this xxxxxxx tablet <great> tesselated tablet. The book contains many fine things, – pearls which I have raked out of the dunghill, – my only merit is that of finding & setting them. It contains also many odd ones, – some that may provoke a smile, & some that will touch the feelings. In parts I think some of my own best writing will be found. It is written with too fair a spirit, to satisfy any particular set of men. For the “religious public” it will be too tolerant & too philosophical; for the Liberales it will be too devotional: the Methodists will not endure any censure of their founder & their institutions; the high Churchmen will as little be able to allow any praise of them. Some will complain of it as being heavy & dull; others will not think it serious enough. I shall be abused on all sides, – & you well know how little I shall care for it.

But there are persons who will find this work deeply interesting, for the subjects upon which it touches, xx the many curious psychological cases which it contains, & the new world to which it will introduce them. I dare say that of the 12000 purchasers of Murraylemagnes Review, [2]  999 persons out of 1000 know as little about the Methodists as they do about the Cherokees or the Chiriguanas. [3]  – I expect that the Master of the Rolls will like it, & also that he will believe in Jeffrey, as I do. [4] 

We have the severest influenza in these parts that Edmondson remembers in his long practice. The poor children are all suffering with it. & Mrs C & Mrs L. have been ill with in it for two or three weeks. I have escaped hitherto, except as far as that discomfort is catching, & that I have somewhat the same kind of feeling which I should have if I were lodged in hospital, – for the sound of coughing is hardly ever out of my ears day or night. In fact it is because I am too uncomfortable to settle to any thing, that I am now writing to you

Poor Wilsey has left the girls [5]  five pounds each, & with her own trembling hand had inserted Cuthberts name in the place of his brothers for ten. I mean to give it them in some durable memorial, – perhaps a handsome bible, xxx xxxx in which I shall place a proper inscription; – or some useful & solid piece of plate with her initials engraved.

– What is become of the Carmen Funebre [6]  – you are ready to ask. I have stuck in it – I hardly know why: for it is nearly done, & what is more, done, as far as it goes, much to my satisfaction. Tomorrow I will try at it doggedly: & you may peradventure receive it before I arrive. And yet I would rather you should hear it before you saw it.

As far as I can foresee my work & my movements, I intend to set off on Monday April 17. & to be about 9 or 10 days on the road.

God bless you


26 March. 1820


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 29 MR 29/ 1820
Endorsement: 26 March. 1820; 26 March 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. 33–35 [in part]. BACK

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

[2] The Life of Wesley was reviewed in Quarterly Review, 24 (October 1820), 1–55, by Reginald Heber. This issue was published on 19 December 1820 and sold about 13,000 copies. BACK

[3] The Cherokees are a North American language group, at this time based in the south-eastern United States; the Chiriguanas are part of the Tupi language group in Brazil. BACK

[4] An account of a ghost by Emilia Wesley (1692–1771), sister of John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB), in The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism, 2 vols (London, 1820), I, pp. 441–443. She attributed the apparitions she experienced to witchcraft. Southey, on the other hand, believed in the existence of ghosts. BACK

[5] Southey’s daughters, Edith May, Bertha, Isabel and Kate. BACK

[6] Southey’s A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

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