3654. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 March 1821

3654. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 March 1821⁠* 

Keswick 17 March. 1821

My dear G.

It seems a long while since I have heard from you. – Your thoughts no doubt have been very much engaged with poor Herries. [1]  I was shocked at reading of his loss in the papers. It is well for him that he has business to occupy part of his time.

I am writing with a pitch plaister on my right shoulder to remedy what Edmondson pronounces rheumatism, but what I had for several weeks supposed to be a strain. He was probably right, for the plaister has very much relieved it; but the remedy is worse than the disease. A whole suit of leather, stockings, breeches & jerkin in one, made to fit close, & well lined with this said Burgundy pitch [2]  would enable a man to act the last scene of Hercules Furens to the life, & with a perfect feeling of the situation. [3] 

My enquiries concerning that part of Ld Somervilles property to which I was heir at law are now terminated. [4]  A decision of the Court of K Bench [5]  gave him what the testator [6]  never intended to give, a fee simple in his estates; he has willed away the part which he had not sold, – & there remains to me nothing but a contingency so very unlikely & remote that it is worth nothing. The cost of these enquiries in Extracts, Opinions & consultations amounts to £7–2–6 which sum I shall be obliged to you to pay to Sharon Turner, who has with his usual kindness given me his own time & trouble, & saved me also that portion of fees which would have been the Solicitors share. I ask you the more willingly to take this trouble, because you know Turner, & know also that there is not a man in the world for whom I respect more sincerely. If you should not know his present address, it is 32 Red Lion Square.

The Vision arrived on Tuesday; [7]  – with two provoking blunders the word ac nonsensically inserted in the note from Landor’s essay, – & the final a in Glaramara omitted. Three Of the letters which I have received concerning it one is from Wynn, who, as he did in his theme rides upon an insuperable obstacle [8]  & fancies the measure unsuited to the construction grammar & harmony of the language, – if I had foreseen the objection I could with ease have demonstrated it to be altogether erroneous. A second is from Sir G. Beaumont, who rather waits to see what opinion will be formed, than expresses one of his own, – a third is from a young poet, the most promising of the rising race, whose name is Heraud, who enters into it with all a young poets ardour finds out beauties which exist in his own imagination only, & talks of writing in it, one of the great works which he has planned. These are all the reports which I have as yet received. But I know that all the women who have heard it read are pleased with the metre, which is proof that it produces the intended effect.

When you next happen to go near a seedsmans, will you get some borecole seed, [9]  which may be sent in a frank. We can get none here.

Did you get my Ode on Monday last? [10]  Ask Gifford if he will have the paper upon Brazil for the next number, – that is the number after this which is coming out. In the present state of Portugal & that Country, I think it ought not to be deferred, & will set about it, if he chuses. [11]  Secure for me the proofs of the Sinner Saved, [12]  which I requested both him & the Megistos to let me have, – for otherwise I know certainly that great part, & probably what I should think the best part of the paper will be lost.

God bless you my dear Grosvenor



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 20 MR 20/ 1821
Endorsements: 17 March 1820/ S. Turner 7.2.6
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Herries’s wife, Sarah, née Dorington (1787–1821), had died on 27 February 1821, leaving six young children. Her death was reported in, for example, Morning Chronicle, 1 March 1821. BACK

[2] Resin made from the spruce tree. BACK

[3] In the final scene of Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC–AD 65), Hercules Furens (c. AD 54), the hero is driven mad by the gods and kills his whole family. BACK

[4] The Fitzhead estate in Somerset; the property of Southey’s third cousin, John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB). BACK

[5] There were a number of legal disputes over the Fitzhead estate; Southey is here probably referring to the case between Lord Somerville and seven others, heard in the Court of King’s Bench on 27 January 1795. BACK

[6] John Cannon Southey (d. 1768), Lord Somerville’s great-uncle, who had left Somerville the Fitzhead property. BACK

[7] A Vision of Judgement (London, 1821), p. xx; Canto 1, line 9. BACK

[8] A joke played on Wynn at Westminster School. His theme ‘Pride is an insurmountable obstacle’ was corrected by a friend (possibly Southey) to ‘I ride an insurmountable obstacle’. Wynn then proceeded innocently to read out the amended version to the class, causing him much embarrassment. BACK

[9] Borecole is another name for the vegetable, kale. BACK

[10] Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 March 1821, Letter 3649, containing Southey’s ‘Ode for St George’s Day’, unpublished until Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 258–262, and written for George IV’s official birthday on 23 April 1821. BACK

[11] Southey did not write an article on Brazil at this time for the Quarterly Review. Southey felt this would be useful, as there had been a liberal revolution in Portugal in 1820 and the Cortes was demanding John VI (1767–1826; King of Portugal 1816–1826) should return from Brazil, where he had fled from the French invasion in 1807. BACK

[12] 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, published 6 April 1821. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)