3703. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 July 1821

3703. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 July 1821⁠* 

My dear G.

I have received the half notes & much admire Charles the fifths clasp knife for the beauty of the blade & the inconvenience of the handle which whether most to be discommended for the shape or the material I know not. The improvement in smell as well as in taste is so great in our days, that if it were part of the coronation ceremony <for the King> to cut bread & cheese with a brass-handled knife, I dare say his most gracious M. would rather dispense with the solemnity than perform that part of it.

The clothes arrived yesterday, & the coat is actually fit for a Dandy! If poor Hyde [1]  were to see me in it he would hardly believe his own eyes.

Gifford told me that M. would send me the 100£ for O.C. [2]  The last case of a delayed article [3]  made me doubt this, & my doubt has been confirmed. It matters not now, for I have drawn both upon the Row & you.

But this second proof that I cannot rely upon the Q.R. for my Ways & Means, xxx where comes strongly in aid of the intention which you know I have so often entertained of withdrawing from it & bestowing the time upon worthier employments. G. wrote me a justification of the manner in which he deals with all my papers, – it was very civil, but written as if he were hurt at knowing that I had been hurt by his unwarrantable liberty. He said what might be very true, that he could not always print what I could write, (which would <hold> good in about one case of 100) & that he xxxx could not always have done wrong the growing success of the review being good proof of good management. – He xxx took no notice of his repeated promises to make no alteration without my assent. – I have not answered his note; but it is more than likely than one article more will be the last that I shall ever contribute to the Q.R. [4]  You need not say this; – there is no occasion to give warning before I leave this servitude. I can be better paid for finishing the Tale of Paraguay & Oliver Newman. [5]  & certainly better employed.

Alas, alas! I meant to have written you a strange account how it was found proper to exchange the title of Prester John for – Pope Joan: [6]  – but alas alas, there is a fatality which renders upon this house! no kitten can be reared here, no cat kept, the poor Pope strayed down the garden into the street & neither by enquiry <&> search nor offered rewards could we ever recover xx her.

Let me tell you that Edith May makes a ginger beer which is better than perry. – Today she is brewing elder-flower wine. I long to have you here, – & I have a vocabulary of Mrs Cs peculiar language to show you, which is worth coming to see. [7]  Besides I have a hundred things to talk about, & schemes for going here there & every where, wherever carts, horses & boat can carry us.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 16 July 1821; 16 July 1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Hyde (d. 1820) was Southey’s London tailor. BACK

[2] Southey’s ‘Life of Cromwell’, Quarterly Review, 25 (July 1821), 279–347, published 17 October 1821. BACK

[3] 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) had finally appeared in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510, published 6 April 1821. BACK

[4] Southey continued to write for the Quarterly Review until 1839. BACK

[5] A Tale of Paraguay (1825) and Southey’s unfinished epic, ‘Oliver Newman’, 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

[6] Prester John was one of the Southeys’ cats. He was black and named after the legendary Christian patriarch and king, who ruled a realm in the East. This country was increasingly identified with Ethiopia by the sixteenth century. Southey eventually found the cat to be female and re-christened her ‘Pope Joan’ after the equally legendary female pope, who had supposedly reigned in the ninth century. BACK

[7] See Southey to ‘Stumparumper’ [Grosvenor Charles Bedford], 14 September 1821, Letter 3730, written in the ‘lingo grande’ of Southey’s sister-in-law Sara Coleridge. BACK

People mentioned

George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 2 times)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 2 times)
Fricker, Sarah (1770–1845) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Paternoster Row, London (mentioned 1 time)