3711. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 August 1821

3711. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 August 1821⁠* 

Netherhall. 12. Aug. 1821.

My dear Grosvenor

Messrs Willis [1]  are better authority than Dr Goodenough about the Stewardship, – they have sent in a demand for £5.8.6 which I shall be obliged to you to answer as soon as you conveniently can. Moreover I must ask you to pay Westall for a proof set of his Lake Views, [2]  either by directing the horse part of a light horse man <(when> you mount if off duty some day,) [3]  to No 19 Mornington Place, Hampstead Road, or by inclosing it, if the sum can be paid in paper, per post. The history of the said proofs is this, – they are a present in return for a cargo of books from one of my New England visitors, a very able & interesting man, with whom I shall henceforth keep up a regular & useful intercourse of this kind. – I am not sure of the price, but think it is 15/ per No, if so, £9 <will be the sum>

I wish you had been here to have seen Cupn, without shoes & stockings running into the sea to meet the waves, till there came one just high enough to upset him. Never was creature in greater glee.

If you have seen Anubis lately, the Dog of Nile, will have told you that a Dutch Lady [4]  has translated Roderick into the language of the Hogen-Mogen, & that her husband who is a member of the Institute of the Netherlands [5]  has given Alexander the Ventriloquist [6]  an introduction to me. This will certainly be a Laker of the very first water. I wish most heartily you may arrive in time to meet him for the Dog says he is coming to Keswick.

This is a very curious house, part of it having been standing in Edward the 2ds reign. [7]  The walls of the Tower in which we sleep are nine feet thick. Here are plenty of books, which tempt me to a sort of laborious idleness.

Tomorrow we dine with a Lady who is half-sister to – Paul Jones, the said Paul having been a natural son of her father. [8] 

Death has been a good friend to Vansittart [9]  for his next years ways & means. The Queen has not long survived her power of doing mischief. [10]  I should be sorry for her death, if there had been any reasonable hope of her repentance: but considering her xx state of mind, & the persons by whom she was surrounded there was little chance of any salutary impress counsel reaching her, or of any wholesome impression being made. God have mercy upon her, for she was neither fit to live nor to die.

God bless you


This day I enter on my 48th year.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ London
Stamped: MARYPORT/ 315
Postmark: E/ 12 AU 12/ 1821
Endorsement: 12 August 1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had been persuaded by his uncle, Herbert Hill, to share the role of Steward (i.e. bear part of the expenses) for the annual meeting of Westminster School ex-pupils in London. This had taken place at Willis’s Rooms in King Street, St James’s. BACK

[2] Westall’s Four Views of Windermere (1821). Subscribers could send for a proof and then sign up for some or all of the forthcoming set. By this means, artists and engravers reduced some of the risk entailed in the high upfront costs of printing high-quality engravings. BACK

[3] Bedford was a member of the Light Horse Volunteers of London and Westminster, a voluntary cavalry regiment. BACK

[4] Katherina Bilderdijk, née Schweickhardt (1776–1830), Rodrigo de Goth, Koning van Spanje (1823–1824), no. 2701 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Bilderdijk was a former President (1809–1811) of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Science, Letters and Arts (founded 1808). Southey’s election to the Institute as an Associate of the Second Class had been announced in 1817. BACK

[6] Alexandre Vattemare (1796–1864), celebrated French ventriloquist who used the stage name ‘Monsieur Alexandre’. Trained as a surgeon, he was refused a diploma after making cadavers appear to speak. Between 1815 and 1835, he visited 550 cities with an act that involved him staging plays in which he voiced all the characters. In later life he developed the first system by which museums and libraries could loan items from their collections to each other. BACK

[7] Edward II (1284–1327; King of England 1307–1327; DNB). The pele tower of Senhouse’s mansion was the earliest part of the house (and is the only part now standing). BACK

[8] John Paul Jones (1747–1792), sailor from Kirkcudbright, who played a central role in the early American navy 1775–1783. It was widely rumoured that he was not the son of John Paul, Senior (1700–1767), a gardener, but of William Craik of Arbigland (1703–1798), the employer of John Paul, Senior. William Craik’s daughter, the novelist Helen Craik (1751–1825; DNB), with whom Southey was to dine, stated her father did have an illegitimate son who went to America, but he was Dr James Craik (1730–1814), not John Paul Jones. BACK

[9] Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley (1766–1851; DNB), Chancellor of the Exchequer 1812–1823. BACK

[10] Queen Caroline (1768–1821; DNB), estranged wife of George IV, had died on 7 August 1821. Her death saved the Exchequer her annual allowance of £50,000. BACK

People mentioned

(mentioned 0 times)
Westall, William (1781–1850) (mentioned 1 time)
Ticknor, George (1791–1871) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Netherhall (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)