3615. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 23 January 1821

3615. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 23 January 1821⁠* 

Keswick 23 Jany. 1821

My dear G.

My good Aunt Mary here (who has as much genuine kindness & natural affection, as would have made both her unnatural brothers [1]  good men if they had had but a tithe of it each) has this day given my children [2]  four pounds, to be vested for them in a joint lottery adventure. If thousands had been at her disposal they would have been given with the same good will. Add to this what may be needful, & buy for <them> two eighths. [3] 

When the Vision is printed I pray you to exercise your taste as to the binding the Kings copy, – for whether you let the Dedication stand or not, a copy of course he must have. [4]  And let there be another bound for the xxxxx fxx the xxxxx for my Mistress, precisely like that for my Master. [5]  I shall ask Osiris if he will go to court & present it. It would I think be wise in him so to do, but of course he will use his own discretion.

You tremble for the experiment; so do not I, tho I expect the utmost rancour of hostility & hatred. The Odes are not annexed, [6]  the poem by help of its accompaniments & a good quantity of Printers fat, has acquired a substantive bulk, & therefore it would be throwing away these to insert them. They would attract no notice, but be fairly overlaid by the Vision. I keep them therefore for the Colloquies. [7] 

Westall is making the drawings & plates for Parrys Voyage. [8]  If you are at any time on your horse in his neighbourhood, you will find him at 20. Euston Crescent, Euston Square.

Have you received the Carmina? [9]  The xx non-arrival of my own copies makes me begin to apprehend that the note in which I ordered yours & certain others to be sent, may not have reached its destination.

God bless you


The thermometer is 18 degrees lower than it was yesterday. Reading the story of Nessus in Ovid this morning [10]  with Shedaw she obv expressed her surprize at finding that he wore cloathes & said how it would have puzzled her to make a shirt for a centaur. I question if that difficulty has occurred to any of the Commentators.

Wynn is at this moment in Pandæmonium. [11] 


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ JA/ 1821
Endorsement: 23. Janry. 1821./ LXryxxxxx
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John and Thomas Southey, wealthy men who had left nothing to their nearest relatives, their sister Mary, and their nephews Robert Southey and his brothers. BACK

[3] The government ran lotteries regularly between 1694–1826. It was normal to buy shares in tickets. BACK

[4] Southey here refers to A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), ‘Dedication’, pp. [v]–viii. The ‘Dedication’ was controversial, not only praising Britain’s victory in the war against France, but stating: ‘The same perfect integrity has been manifested in the whole administration of public affairs’ (vi); not a view the Whig opposition endorsed. However, the earlier draft of the ‘Dedication’, in Huntington Library, San Marino, HM 2733, shows Southey had intended to go much further and urge that ‘adequate remedy should be applied to that intolerable licentiousness of the press … either by the vigorous application of existing laws or by the enactment of such new ones as the suspension of the abuse may render necessary’. BACK

[5] Edith’s copy is probably A Vision of Judgement (1821), no. 2626 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, described as ‘superbly bound in blue morocco, leather joints, richly tooled and lined with silk’. George IV, the recipient of a copy in the same binding, was Southey’s ‘Master’ because of the latter’s post as Poet Laureate. BACK

[6] ‘The Warning Voice. Ode I’ and ‘The Warning Voice. Ode II’, the New Year’s Odes for 1820 and 1821. were not published until they appeared in The Englishman’s Library: Comprising a Series of Historical, Biographical and National Information (London, 1824), pp. 381–389. BACK

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

[8] William Parry (1790–1855; DNB), Journal for the Voyage of Discovery of a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific; Performed in the Years 1819–20, in His Majesty’s Ships Hecla and Griper (1821). The book contained 20 plates derived from sketches by Westall. BACK

[9] A combined second edition of Carmen Triumphale (1814) and 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). BACK

[10] Nessus: a centaur in Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC–AD 17/18), Metamorphoses, Book 9, lines 95–135. He was killed by the hero Hercules, but a shirt daubed with Nessus’s blood in turn killed Hercules. BACK

[11] The capital of Hell in John Milton (1608–1674; DNB), Paradise Lost (1667) and Southey’s term for the House of Commons, which began sitting again on 23 January 1821. BACK

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