3624. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2 February 1821

3624. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2 February 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 2 Feby 1821.

My dear Grosvenor

You have by this time learnt how readily I acquiesced in the decision which you & Herries passd [1]  upon the Dedication. [2]  You will not regard the trouble of the discussion, neither do I regret the time employed in composing it; the spirit moved me, – & I satisfied myself by writing according to my feelings. There ended all my interest in the affair, for I have lived long enough to know how little such things are thought of by any but the writers themselves – & to apply that knowledge to things of more pith & moment than a dedication. How differently did I feel on that Saturday when the first number of the Flagellant was published! - [3]  tho there was not a line of my own in it still I felt that I had taken the field, & my own Alphonso was not filled with higher hopes & aspirations when first he put on the x armour which his father had worn in Wambas wars. [4]  I have a most vivid recollection of that day.

The MS. of the Vision was sent me with the proofs. You mentioned an intention of preserving it, & therefore I have not thrown the dirty & befingered px leaves into the fire, as otherwise I should have done. [5]  – I have introduced Hogarth & Wesley. [6] Mr Wilsons [7]  letter in reply to mine having led me vehemently to suspect that the document which impeached his character was an invention of his wife’s, – so I restored the lines which had been xxxxxx struck out pendente lite. [8]  – The type is necessarily small, but there is nothing uncouth in the appearance of the page, nor of the lines, they look as well as blank verse. I am looking daily for the notes & the Preface, with the intent of referring in the former to Westalls views, for the line of mountains, & the evening effect described in the opening of the poem. [9] 

The Almanacks are not arrived. I have long been expecting a parcel from Longmans, & begin to marvel at its delay.

Concerning poor dear Nash’s effects I know as little as you do. Nothing has been said to me about the drawings which his family must know to be mine, & therefore I must write about them. He told me once that he either had left, or intended to leave me, two splendid drawings by Westall of the Carli Cave in India: [10]  – but I do not know whether he had made a will. I have some reason to suspect that those who are to share his property will not regret him so deeply & so long as I shall do.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 2d Feb 1821./ Dedic: Hazell. Nash
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 232–234. BACK

[1] Passd: written over ‘past’. BACK

[2] 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’. Southey had asked the opinion of Bedford and Herries on the ‘Dedication’; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 January 1821, Letter 3614. BACK

[3] The Flagellant was the schoolboy magazine published by Southey and Bedford; nine issues appeared 1 March–26 April 1792. 1 March 1792 was a Tuesday, though, not a Saturday. BACK

[4] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 12, lines 63–100, referring to Alfonso I (c. 693–757; King of Asturias 739–757), son of Peter, Duke of Cantabria (d. 730), putting on for the first time the armour that Duke Peter had worn in the wars of Wamba (d. 687; King of the Visigoths 672–680). BACK

[5] This manuscript of A Vision of Judgement (1821) is now at Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng 949. BACK

[6] In A Vision of Judgement (1821), ‘The Worthies of the Georgian Age’ (Canto 10), lines 11–16, the artist William Hogarth (1697–1764; DNB) was a last-minute addition, along with John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB). BACK

[7] Southey had been informed that Wesley had attempted to seduce one of his female followers and wrote to try and verify this information; see Southey to [Glocester Wilson], 29 December 1820, Letter 3596. Wilson’s reply led Southey to believe that Mary Wesley (1709/10–1781), Wesley’s estranged wife, might have forged the letter containing this information and that Wesley was not guilty of any impropriety. BACK

[8] ‘Awaiting the litigation’. Southey had crossed out lines in praise of Wesley in the first transcript of A Vision of Judgement (1821); the manuscript is now at Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, P 12 MS S. BACK

[9] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), p. 49, referring to Westall’s Views of the Lake and of the Vale of Keswick (1820). BACK

[10] Westall made a number of drawings of the ‘Great Cave–Temple of Elephanta, nr Bombay’ (1803). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)