3575. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 December 1820

3575. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 December 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 4 Dec. 1820

My dear G.

I am rather uneasy at your not having acknowledged the receipt of the draft (for the 400) which I sent you on this day week, under cover to Rickman. [1] 

My Vision [2]  is not yet finished, tho I have every day for the last week expected to write Finis. It will now somewhat exceed 500 lines. I should like to dedicate it to Elmsley, if it were not for an apprehension that a poem upon such a subject coming from the P.L. could not with propriety be dedicated to any person but the K. & in that case it must go without one; for altho at this time when the K receives such rascally treatment from xxxx the Mob, the rascally Whigs, & the Cowards who dare not act according to their conviction & their judgement, [3]  I should like to offer him a mark of respect, – so experimental a production as this is not what one would chuse for the occasion. Tell me, if you think there would be an impropriety in addressing it to the Czar. [4]  By dividing it into sections, which is on every account desirable, – by adding a few notes, & giving an account of former attempts in our language, & similar ones in other modern tongues the book will gain a substantive bulk, – perhaps as thick as the Carmen Nuptiale, – but the size must be foolscap quarto. [5] 

Do you know that except B Jonson [6]  no Laureate ever worked so hard in his office as I have done: – but it has been rather in works of supererogation than of duty.

I cannot conceive why Murray does not send my first chapter to the Press. [7] 

God bless you – I am going to work doggedly, as in old times measuring feet by the fingers [8] 



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 7 DE 7/ 1820
Endorsement: 4 Decr 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 27 November 1820, Letter 3658. BACK

[2] A Vision of Judgement (1821); it was dedicated to George IV and exceeded 600 lines. BACK

[3] Under extreme pressure from George IV, the Cabinet had reluctantly agreed to introduce a Bill of Pains and Penalties into the House of Lords to deprive the King’s wife, Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821; DNB), of the title of Queen and to dissolve her marriage to the King. On the Third Reading of the Bill on 10 November 1820, the government majority was only nine votes and it seemed very unlikely the Bill could pass the House of Commons. Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, therefore had announced the Bill would be withdrawn. BACK

[4] Alexander I (1777–1825; Tsar of Russia 1801–1825). BACK

[5] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821) was divided into twelve cantos and contained a ‘Preface’ (pp. ix–xxvii), ‘Notes’ (pp. 47–65) and ‘Specimens’ (pp. 67–79). It was not published in foolscap quarto, but in quarto. In fact, at 93 pages, A Vision of Judgement, was longer than the Lay of the Laureate (1816), which comprised 77 pages. BACK

[6] Ben Jonson (1572–1637; DNB), Poet Laureate 1616–1637. BACK

[7] The first chapter of Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 3–62. BACK

[8] Southey was measuring the iambic feet in A Vision of Judgement (1821) by counting them on his fingers; in ‘old times’ all measurements, such as feet, were taken from the human body. BACK

People mentioned

Elmsley, Peter (1774–1825) (mentioned 1 time)
George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)