3591. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 December 1820

3591. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 December 1820⁠* 

My dear G.

The mystery concerning the Peninsular War is explained at last. [1]  Yesterday I received four sheets of it, with a note from Murray. He says “I hope you will not think me very inconsistent if I entreat you not to press me about the printer. Both Longman & myself have formed connections in this line who are occasionally most importantly serviceable to us in our business, & therefore feel exceedingly hurt when a work so important as yours in every respect is taken from them. – Have the goodness to say that I had long ago promised the work to another printer, & had forgotten it, – it has been so long in preparation.”

He says more to the same purport which need not be transcribed. The matter is now plain, – he has been ashamed to xxy say that he did not mean to keep his promise, knowing in how uncomfortable a situation it would place me, – & so delayed it till it could be delayed no longer. – I can do no more, & am very sorry that the matter ends thus, & that your wishes & mine should thus be thwarted. Tell Wm Nicol this. – Who is printing it I do not yet know, – the proofs came under an Admiralty frank, & for want of any other direction I must send them back thro the same channel.

If it had not been for the vexation which thus accompanied it, the arrival of these first proofs would have been the most chearing event of this Christmas. When I am in so far in printers ink, the stimulus to go on is never wanting; – & the prospect of three volumes in which I am now fairly embarked has also the <has upon me> an encouraging & exhilarating effect.

The same post which brought the historical proofs, brought also the last & larger portion of the paper concerning the S.S. [2]  I have written to Gifford requesting him to send me a set of the proofs, telling him that I know he will put this production into his boot, [3]  & that I wish to have a copy of it in its entire state. It is a paper which will interest the Master of the Rolls, & which pleases me much better than some others have done that have taken far better with the public than this is likely to do.

My next proof will probably be of the Vision, [4]  which I shall like much to see in types. – I have the preface to write, – & I have called to mind in time that I have omitted to mention one of the greatest men of the last reign – Hogarth. [5]  Offence I doubt not will be given to some persons by the omission of Pitt; [6]  – I acknowledge his English spirit, I like the Union, I admire his courage, & for that quality wish he were alive again, – but I never can think him a statesman, & therefore cannot place his name among those which will stand high in the estimation of after ages.

God bless you. The mountains will probably be perrywigged when I rise tomorrow, for it is just now as cold as de-Kiggle, as windy as de-Wiggle, & as cloudy as de-Cliggle. – I have had a letter from the Czar. [7]  And I have sent you the reprint of the Carmen &c – where you will find a postscript to the Notes, tolerably well-seasoned. [8]  This is intended to form a volume with the Carmen Nuptiale, [9]  – but in binding it must be placed first.


Dec 26. 1820.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row
Endorsements: 26 Decr 1820; 26 Decr 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). Southey had wished it to be printed by William Nicol (d. c. 1855), but Murray insisted on using his regular collaborator, Thomas Davison (1766–1831). BACK

[2] Southey’s review of The Works of the Reverend William Huntington, S. S. Minister of the Gospel, at Providence Chapel, Gray’s Inn Lane, Completed to the Close of the Year 1806 (1811) appeared in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510. BACK

[3] In other words, Southey objected to Gifford editing the article; he was an ex-shoemaker, hence the pun. BACK

[4] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[5] William Hogarth (1697–1764; DNB), English painter. He was added to the list of ‘The Worthies of the Georgian Age’ in A Vision of Judgement (1821), Canto 10, lines 11–12. BACK

[6] William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), Prime Minister 1783–1801, 1804–1806, and creator of the Act of Union (1800) between Great Britain and Ireland. BACK

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

[8] A combined second edition of Carmen Triumphale (1814) and Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (1814), published as Carmen Triumphale, for the Commencement of the Year 1814: Carmen Aulica. Written in 1814, on the Arrival of the Allied Sovereigns in England (1821). In Carmen Triumphale (London, 1821), pp. 45–53, there was a ‘Postscript’, which had originally been written in 1818 as a response to Brougham’s reported attack on Southey from the hustings on 30 June 1818, during the General Election contest in Westmorland. BACK

[9] Southey’s Lay of the Laureate (1816). BACK

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