3700. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 6 July 1821

3700. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 6 July 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 6 July. 1821

My dear Grosvenor

The Massachusetts Historical Society have elected me a member. [1]  This is the oldest & most respectable literary Institution in America, & one which has done good service by the Historical Collections which it has published. [2]  the book is very scarce in England, so much so that Dr Young [3]  some years ago sent down to consult my copy, not being able to hear of any other person who possessed it. I am in good odour at Boston, where Oliver Newman [4]  is looked for with more expectation than it is in Old England, & will perhaps be read with more interest, as relating to known places & familiar events.

Having thus informed you that I have obtained a new tail to my name, let me likewise communicate to you that I have not obtained anything new for my tail, – the expected pantaloons &c not having arrived.

You may send me, si placet, [5]  50£, – for two reasons, – first because I wanted want it, owing to the postponement of my paper upon Cromwell, [6]  – & secondly because it will occasion you to put pen to paper with your thoughts in this direction, – which it is long since you have done. I wish you could run away & keep the Coronation here. [7]  By that time my annual cold may perhaps have left me, it must now be nine or ten weeks old. This last week I have taken much more exercise than usual – I was round the Vale of St Johns on Monday, Tuesday at Buttermere, yesterday at Watenlath & Borrodale; & if tomorrow be fair, I shall sit down on the summit of Skiddaw. Mrs Keenan & her daughter are with us [8]  – I do not know whether you saw her in London in 1802 [9]  – she is the sister of General Mc Kinnon who was killed at Ciudad Rodrigo. [10]  They leave us on Monday.

Last week my lawful Governess’s copy of the Vision [11]  arrived: very magnificent it is; white silk however would have looked better than white sattin in the inside, & silk I think you intended it to be. The King must think he has a very magnificent Laureate. You have not rubbed up my memory about the Coronation [12]  by sending me a book concerning its ceremonials, – & notwithstanding Lord Grosvenors [13]  hint, I do not know that there is any occasion for my volunteering with unwilling Minerva. [14] 

We are all tolerably well – I hear Cupn in riotous spirits on the stairs. God bless you. Remember me to Henry & Miss Page, – & come if you can, the sooner the better, & the longer you can stay.



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ 9 JY/ 1821
Endorsements: 6. July 1821/ £50 –
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Massachusetts Historical Society (founded 1791) is the oldest historical society in the United States. It is based in Boston, and collects and preserves documents on American history. BACK

[2] Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, from the Commencement in 1792 to 1823 (1806–1823), no. 1819 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Thomas Young (1773–1829; DNB), doctor, scientist, polymath and occasional writer for the Quarterly Review. BACK

[4] Southey’s unfinished epic set in New England. A fragment was published posthumously in Oliver Newman: a New-England Tale (Unfinished): with Other Poetical Remains by the Late Robert Southey (London, 1845), pp. 1–90. BACK

[5] ‘if you please’. BACK

[6] Southey’s ‘Life of Cromwell’, Quarterly Review, 25 (July 1821), 279–347. BACK

[7] The coronation of George IV on 19 July 1821. BACK

[8] Frances Keenan (d. 1838), wife of the Irish portrait painter John Keenan (d. 1819). Southey first met her in Exeter in 1799. Frances Keenan was also an artist, as was her daughter, Frances Louisa Keenan (1801–1884), wife of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807–1894; DNB). BACK

[9] John Keenan had painted Southey’s portrait in London in 1802. BACK

[10] Major-General Henry MacKinnon (1773–1812) commanded the 45th, 74th and 88th Regiments, and was killed storming the city of Ciudad Rodrigo on the night of 19–20 January 1812. He was the subject of Southey’s ‘To the Memory of Major General MacKinnon’, Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 152–154. BACK

[11] 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’. BACK

[12] Southey wrote a few notes for a oronation Ode, dated ‘Feby 9. 1821’ in his notebook, now at the Huntington Library, San Marino, HM 2733, f. 126r. However, he did not get beyond this and did not write a poem for the coronation on 19 July 1821. BACK

[13] Robert Grosvenor, 2nd Earl Grosvenor (1767–1845), a major landowner in Cheshire and London. He was created 1st Marquess of Westminster in 1831. William Gifford had been Grosvenor’s tutor. The latter’s interest in the coronation possibly stemmed from his family tie to it. As Lords of the Manor of Great Wymondley, Hertfordshire, the Grosvenors had performed the privilege, of serving the monarch with a drink from a silver cup at the coronation banquets of 1727 and 1761. They had sold the Lordship in 1767 and therefore did not perform the same role at the coronation banquet of 1821. BACK

[14] Minerva was the Roman goddess of poetic inspiration. BACK

People mentioned

Bedford family (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)