3734. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 October 1821

3734. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 October 1821⁠* 

My dear G.

Mackenzie with his usual obligingness has sent me the details which I requested. [1]  They are very creditable to his zeal & activity, & with what I previously knew of the matter will make one of the most interesting pages in my history. He shall ask you, he says, to let him peruse the first vol: immediately, because he expects in a few weeks to see General Foy, [2]  who has the same task in hand. – Let him see the sheets if he wishes it, he may like to say to Gen Foy that he has seen them, – & if he looks over them the mere act of turning over the leaves will show him the scale & character of the work. – I send my note unsealed that you may see what I have said to him upon this subject.

Are you the better for the sea breezes? I have been passing a week at Lowther, & having lamed myself the first day by an inexcusable quarrel between my boot & one of my toes, had good excuse for working every morning afterwards among old books, of which there are there good store. It is a pleasant house of its kind to inhabit for a few days, the servants (mirabile dictu!) [3]  are perfectly attentive to all the guests, & my acquaintance with the family is now of sufficient standing to make me quite at ease there. Lord L. has for some years supplied me liberally with game & venison xxxx xxxxxxx & now he has done me the greater service of giving me free & full use of his library, – which at this distance from all public collections is a great assistance.

I am sorry that my chance for a castle in Bohemia is lost. [4] 

There came to me the other day a letter from some Mr Samuel Simpson of Liverpool [5]  requesting a few lines in my handwriting to fill one vacancy in his Collection of autographs, without which his “series must ever remain most incomplete” – I answered as follows

Inasmuch as you Sam, a descendant of Sim,
For collecting handwriting have taken a whim
And to me, Robert Southey, petition have made
In a civil & neatly-penned letter, post-paid
That I to your Album so gracious would be
As to fill up a page there appointed for me
Five couplets I send you, – by aid of the Nine.
They will cost you in postage a penny a line
At Keswick October the sixth they were done
One Thousand, eight hundred & twenty & one.


God bless you


The name of the newly discovered language (of which I have more to say hereafter) is the Lingo Grande. [6] 

Mackenzie merely dates from London. I know not therefore where to direct the inclosed note.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsements: Recd. 13. Octr 1821 by frank from Rick-/man at Epsom/ with Lr to C A Mc Kenzie; 8 Octor. 1821
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 26. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 276–277.
Note on MS: The enclosed note to Colin Alexander Mackenzie has not survived. BACK

[1] Colin Alexander Mackenzie (1778?–1851), a wealthy Scot who was employed on a number of delicate diplomatic missions and may well have been a government spy. In 1815 he was appointed one of the Commissioners of Liquidation, Arbitration and Deposit, who adjudicated on claims by British citizens for loss of property against the French government. Southey dined with him in Paris on 17 May and 19 May 1817, and Mackenzie offered to provide some details of his wartime activities. Southey’s History of the Peninsular War, 3 vols (London, 1823–1832), I, pp. 657–659, dealt with Mackenzie’s role in the evacuation of the Spanish Division of the North from northern Europe in August 1808. BACK

[2] Maximilien Sebastien Foy (1775–1825), French commander in the Peninsular War 1808–1814 and author of Histoire de la Guerre de la Péninsule sous Napoleon (1827). BACK

[3] ‘wonderful to relate’. BACK

[4] Southey had asked Bedford to buy him tickets in an Austrian lottery to win seven estates in Bohemia. BACK

[5] Samuel Simpson (dates unknown) of Clare Street, Liverpool was an inveterate autograph-hunter of this period. BACK

[6] Southey’s name for the language invented by Sarah Coleridge. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Lowther estate (mentioned 1 time)