3539. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 October 1820

3539. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 October 1820⁠* 

My dear G.

I wrote a long letter upon the arrival of the first half notes, [1]  – the chief matters which I can call to mind related to Wm Nicol & the History of the War [2]  to wit that I had received no proof sheet at which I marvelled greatly, that Murray having told me he would put it into Bulmers [3]  hands at my desire I expected still that he would do so – & that I wished you to take an opportunity of asking M. about it, when he meant to give it the printer, & to say how conveniently you could manage the transmitting certain proofs to certain persons (inter nos a matter of little or no importance, – but a good ostensible reason for my request concerning the printing, in aid of others.

Another thing related to Henry. Barrow [4]  told me that Rodney [5]  was once instructed to search for land to the W. of Ireland – in consequence of the frequent reports about O Breasile the Enchanted Island. I wished Henry to procure for me this fact in an official form, – that is, the letter & date of the instruction, if it would not give him more trouble than it is worth. There is a curious note upon the subject in my first volume of Brazil, [6]  & in the reimpression of that volume, now in the press, I have some curious additions to make to it, – to which I should like to add this. [7]  What else the letter contained I have forgotten, – except that xxxx Cuthbert was unwell at the time & that I was apprehensive the appearance of his convalescence was doubtful. That apprehension was well founded, & he had a somewhat severe attack of bilious fever afterwards. Now however thank God he is perfectly recovered, – & a finer creature of his age you never saw. Nash has made an excellent portrait of him.

Are the blisters of which you speak applied with the hope of removing deafness? or have you had any illness which rendered them necessary? – I have been really uneasy at not hearing from you. I have had a severe cold myself, which prevented my intended excursion to Furness. Last week however I made performed the circumequitation of Skiddaw with Nash, Charles Kennaway, & two sons of Sir Gerard Noel. [8]  There are some fine things upon the way. When you come to Keswick next year (& remember, that come you must) – we will make this, with many other excursions that I have planned.

In this last paper of mine in the QR. [9]  there were two passages which I thought valuable, – the one showing the probability that new & frightful superstitions would spring up in the United States of America for want of a national religion, – the other showing the effect of atrocious libels by the fact that Felton was xxxxx induced by one to murder the D. of Buckingham. [10] Gifford has thought proper, for no imaginable reason, except his own will & pleasure, to omit both these passages.

I am reading widely & curiously for the Life of George Fox, which will be a very interesting book. [11]  And I shall soon be in the marrow of my Dialogues. [12]  But I have no time now to report progress to you in my manifold undertakings, for there is a proof of Brazil [13]  on the table to be corrected for this nights post. So God bless you – Write soon. & remember me to Miss Page & the Master of the Rolls


Keswick. 16 Oct. 1820.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 19 OC 19/ 1820
Endorsements: 16 Octr 1820; 16 Octr 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] This letter appears to have been lost in the post. BACK

[2] William Nicol (d. c.1855), printer and bookseller. The History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832) was printed by Thomas Davison (1766–1831), the usual collaborator of its publisher John Murray, not by Nicol. BACK

[3] William Bulmer (1757–1830; DNB), famous printer of high-quality publications. On his retirement in 1819, William Nicol took over his business. BACK

[4] John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), Second Secretary to the Admiralty 1804–1806, 1807–1845. BACK

[5] George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney (1718–1792; DNB), naval commander. This story is as mythical as the Enchanted Island. BACK

[6] History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), I, pp. 22–23, on the Irish legend of an island called O Breasil, which can be seen from the Isles of Arran. BACK

[7] See the revised second edition of the first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil (London, 1822), pp. v–vi. Southey did not mention the story about Rodney. BACK

[8] Sir Gerard Noel, 2nd Baronet (1759–1838), MP for Maidstone 1784–1788, MP for Rutland 1788–1800, 1801–1808, 1814–1838. He had eleven sons, but the two who Southey met were the youngest: Leland Noel; and Baptist Wriothesley Noel (1798–1873), later an evangelical clergyman at St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row 1827–1848 and then a Baptist Minister. Both were at this time also students at Cambridge. BACK

[9] Southey’s review of Benjamin Haydon, New Churches, Considered with Respect to the Opportunities they Offer for the Encouragement of Painting (1818) appeared in Quarterly Review, 23 (July 1820), 549–591, published on 5 October 1820. BACK

[10] John Felton (c. 1595–1628; DNB) murdered George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592–1628; DNB). Felton gave two different explanations of his motives: that he had been passed over for promotion and was owed money by the government; and that the House of Commons’ Remonstrance of 28 June 1628 had convinced him Buckingham was an enemy of his country. However, Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639; DNB), A Short View of the Life and Death of George Villers, Duke of Buckingham (London, 1642), p. 23, reported a conversation that Felton had only three hours before his execution, in which Felton stated he was motivated by ‘a certain libelous book written by one Eggleston a Scottish Physitian, which made the Duke one of the foulest monsters on earth’. BACK

[11] George Fox (1624–1691; DNB), founder of the Society of Friends. Southey did not write a life of Fox. BACK

[12] Sir Thomas More: or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829). BACK

[13] The second edition of the first volume of the History of Brazil (1810–1819) was published in 1822. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)
Furness Abbey (mentioned 1 time)