1183. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 21 May 1806

1183. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 21 May 1806 ⁠* 

Wednesday 21 May 1806

Dear Grosvenor

I will answer your letter as soon as I have said what is uppermost in my head. I want of you to do three things for D. Manuel. [1]  the one will cost you no more trouble than just to walk into Westminster Abbey, if your memory like mine wants freshening, & describe for me such of the tombs are most remarkable – in particular Sir Cloudesly Shovel [2]  – Mr Thynne who is looking out of a coach window, [3]  & Mrs Nightingale. [4]  I want a brief & sarcastic description. Tell me whose is the monument abreast of Newtons, that is the one which flanks the other side of the entrance to the choir. [5]  Now do this I beseech you & send me off your letter by tomorrows post, & say any thing of the Abbey besides which you like to say. Letter 18 – which is Duppas is the next which goes to press, & I cannot finish the transcription till you add this help. [6] 

Secondly write me a letter, the sooner the better, describing Vauxhall, [7]  where I have never been & here you may take your Frenchman, & let D. Manuel repeat his remarks, as being thoroughly amused at his ignorance. Date the letter, as I do not know when Vauxhall opens.

Thirdly, go the first Sunday you can to the Swedenborgian – or New Jerusalem Chapel near St James’s Square, & write to me about the service. [8] 


I cannot tell why you prefer blank rhymed specimens to blank verse – use your own judgement about Mrs Robinson [9]  – only insert the inclosed which is hers, & let me write the sketch.

I know nothing of James Marriott [10]  – say merely of him from Poems printed in such a year.

Jos Hucks was a man whom I well knew poor fellow. his poems lie at Rickmans in the sitting parlour with papers to mark the specimens [11] xx xxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxxx he died 1800 – & I shall <say> some thing about him.

I am going to write for an account of Churchey [12]  to Cottle who knew something about him, his poems are in the Museum. Boswell [13]  never published any poems, & the three women may be omitted unless they fall in your way.

Say of Bryan Edwards that he was the person who dressed up <Mungo> Parks book for the press, & put in those conclusions in favour of the Slave Trade, which made every person who was not in the secret wonder, as the facts in the book, for Park was too honest a man to let them be tampered with, forces irresistibly upon every fair mind a directly opposite conclusion. [14]  Say also that it was <well> said of B. Edward that he

Half Penseroso, half allegro [15] 
Writes sonnets on his own dead negro.

Wm Stevens shall be sent you & Amos Cottle also [16]  – & now have I replied step by step to all your enquiries. Except the to the death of Dr Roberts [17]  – make a Mem. to desire Elmsley to ask Hallam this. [18] 

I am very busy, running a race with the printer, & if I do not keep pace with him the Constable will never keep pace with me. A good reason Mr Bedford for stirring my stumps.

Write to me about the Abbey without delay – I have another letter begun to you – which will be finished in course of time, & I will send you all my translations that are worth transcription

God bless you


It would do your heart good just to look out at my window this delightful day.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 21 May 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[2] The death of Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Cloudesley Shovell (1650–1707; DNB), in a shipwreck, is commemorated in Westminster Abbey in a large marble monument. He is depicted lying on a couch dressed in Roman armour, with a relief of the shipwreck at the base of the monument. The monument is not described in Letters from England. BACK

[3] Thomas Thynne (1647/8–1682; DNB) was murdered while travelling in his coach. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey under a large tombstone depicting his murder. The monument is not described in Letters from England. BACK

[4] In St Michael’s chapel of Westminster Abbey there is a monument commemorating Lady Elizabeth Nightingale (1704–1731), the wife of Joseph Gascoigne (1695–1752), who assumed the surname of Nightingale on becoming heir to his kinsman Sir Robert Nightingale. The monument, by the French sculptor, Louis Francois Roubiliac (1702/1705–1762) was installed in 1761 and it depicts Death in the figure of a skeleton aiming a dart at his victim, Elizabeth, while her husband tries to protect her. It is not described in Letters from England. BACK

[5] Isaac Newton (1642–1727; DNB) was interred in the nave of Westminster Abbey, where an elaborate marble monument to him was erected in 1731. It depicts the reclining figure of Newton, in classical dress, with his books and representative elements of astronomy. The other monument mentioned by Southey commemorates James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope (1673–1721; DNB), army officer, diplomat, and politician, who is depicted reposing in Roman armour. Both designs were by the architect, William Kent (bap. 1686–1748; DNB) and were executed by the sculptor, Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770). The monuments are described in Letters from England, Letter 23. BACK

[6] Letter 18 of Letters from England describes the English theatre. BACK

[7] Vauxhall Gardens, London, which was opened in 1661 and continued as a popular attraction until 1859. It was a venue for musical events, viewing artworks and performers and was famed for its night-time illuminations and firework displays. It is not described in Letters from England. BACK

[8] A religious movement that developed from the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), a Swedish scientist and theologian, who claimed to have received a new revelation from Jesus Christ. In 1788 his followers styled themselves ‘The New Church’. Southey’s account of Swedenborgianism is given in Letter 62 of Letters from England (1807). BACK

[9] Mary Robinson (1757–1800; DNB): poet, novelist, woman of fashion, courtesan, who contributed poetry to the Morning Post. She is not included in the Specimens. BACK

[10] Sir James Marriott (1730–1803; DNB), judge and politician, who published verse in Robert Dodsley (1704–1764; DNB), ed., A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, 6 vols (1748–1758). Extracts of his poetry were included in Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, 375–382. BACK

[11] Joseph Hucks, the Cambridge undergraduate companion of Coleridge on their walking tour of 1794, which he published an account of in A Pedestrian Tour of North Wales, in a Series of Letters (1795). He also published Poems in 1798. Hucks does not appear in the Specimens, though Southey had included verse by him in the Annual Anthology, 2 (1800), p. 50. BACK

[12] Walter Churchey (1747–1805; DNB), Welsh poet who published Poems and Imitations of the British Poets in 1789. He is not included in Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[13] James Boswell (1740–1795; DNB), lawyer, diarist, and biographer of Samuel Johnson. BACK

[14] Bryan Edwards (1743–1800; DNB), planter and politician, who wrote several books of West Indian history. He assisted in the preparation for publication of Mungo Park’s (1771–1806; DNB), Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa Performed … in 1795 and 1796 (1799). BACK

[15] Allusions to Milton’s ‘L’Allegro’ and ‘Il Penseroso’. Edwards published ‘The Negro’s Dying Speech on his being Executed for Rebellion in the Island of Jamaica’ in the Universal Magazine (November 1777), and it was included in his later collection, Poems, Written Chiefly in the West Indies (1792). BACK

[16] William Bagshaw Stevens (1756–1800; DNB), poet and diarist, who published Poems, Consisting of Indian Odes and Miscellaneous Pieces in 1775 and a second volume of Poems in 1782; Amos Simon Cottle, author of Icelandic Poetry, or, The Edda of Saemund, Translated into English verse (1797) which included a dedicatory poem by Southey. Neither writer was included in Specimens of the Later English Poets. BACK

[17] William Hayward Roberts (bap. 1734–1791; DNB), poet and Church of England clergyman, whose most notable work was his long poem, Judah Restored: a Poem, in Six Books (1776), which served as inspiration for Southey’s Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). Roberts published an edition of Poems in 1774. Extracts from his poetry are included in Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, pp. 345–350. BACK

[18] Henry Hallam (1777–1859; DNB): historian and reviewer. BACK

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