1236. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [7 November 1806]

1236. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [7 November 1806] ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I must reply in haste to your letter to prevent mischief. [1]  The preliminary remarks upon Day [2]  must not be altered – they are not irrelevant, but strictly to the point & purpose. Besides you may remember what I before told you, that I am acquainted with Days nearest connections, [3]  & in habits when within reach of visiting them therefore as be in common decorum I would not in this book say any thing to offend them <did I think it> much xx less will I forbear to express what are my real & well grounded opinions.

As for hounded  [4]  if it be a familiar term to you I am glad to hear that it is not quite obsolete. It is the word which has been formed into hunted, & which was used in this particular place to recall the metaphorical meaning, up custom having made us insensible of it. There is no jest in it – & if you object to all such things as jests – the book might avoid censure but would xxxx certainly have no character at all. I am not tenacious of trifles – & you may alter it if you like.

To your next remark I wholly & loudly dissent. Why not use the first person? Am I because I am writing a book to speak of men whom I have known familiarly & intimately just as of mere strangers – when their name comes in my way to look at it – as a fellow from Westminster who wears a silk gown at Oxford stares at his old school & room-fellows when he meets them in the street, & does not know them because forsooth he is a gentleman commoner? My dear Grosvenor you forget how many persons will take up these volumes to whom Robert Southey is something more than an author – something more than an invisible being who has no first person – to whom he is flesh & blood, an actual existing being whom they know to be possessed of human feeling, & human recollections, & from whom they expect, & have reason to expect the expression of that humanity. What is said of Lovell & A. Cottle  [5]  must not be altered, – do you not suppose that I would rather spit in the face of all the critics of Xtendom – than tread unintentionally upon the toes of a common acquaintance – if I happened to hurt him.

Had you not better let direct Hollingsworth [6]  to send me the proofs. that trouble you need not have.

As for all principles & all personalities in the book remember it is I – not you who are responsible for them – that you do are not implicated by what I may say – but whatever you say implicates me – I am sorry to refer you to more books – but it is really & truly not an hours trouble – a note to Longman will bring you Sharps Edition of Day [7]  & Cottles poems [8]  – & Laings Ossian [9]  (from which the Specimens are indicated. Hucks  [10]  & the Bristol  [11]  are at Rickmans – & if you will ask Rickman he will in ten minutes encrotchet [ ] thus what Hyems [12]  has to copy –

I sent you the Preface – over which you are perhaps by this time snarling. I have long known that in matters of taste we differ toto cælo [13]  – & for that there is no help.

For Gods sake take care of yourself, & if you go to Bath pray pray go to Beddoes at Bristol. I know of one life which he has saved in a liver case when calomel [14]  persevered in would have been fatal.

God bless you




* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ NOV10/1806
Endorsement: Recd. 10 Nov 1818 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 396–398.
Dating note: Southey dates the letter ‘Friday’ which was 7 November in 1806. BACK

[1] Southey’s letter is advising Grosvenor Charles Bedford on entries for their jointly edited anthology, Specimens of the Later English Poets, published by Longman in 3 volumes in 1807. BACK

[2] Thomas Day (1748–1789; DNB), writer of instructive fiction, whose novel, Sandford and Merton was published in three volumes in 1783, 1786 and 1789. Day’s poetry is included in Specimens of the Later English Poets, III, pp. 308–316. BACK

[3] Southey’s Bristol friend, the surgeon John King had married Emmeline Edgeworth (1770–1817); Day was a close friend of her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744–1817; DNB). BACK

[4] See Specimens of the Later English Poets, III, p. 425. BACK

[5] Robert Lovell and Amos Cottle are not included in the Specimens. BACK

[6] S. Hollingsworth (first name and dates unknown) of Crane Court, Fleet Street was the printer of the Specimens. BACK

[7] Thomas Day’s poetry had been published in 1805 in Select Miscellaneous Productions of Mrs Day, and Thomas Day, Esq. in Verse and Prose. BACK

[8] See note 5. BACK

[9] Malcolm Laing (1762–1818; DNB), The Poems of Ossian, Containing the Poetical Works of James Macpherson in Prose and Verse, with Notes and Illustrations (1805). Southey had a copy of this work because he reviewed it in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806), 615–620. Laing is mentioned in Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, p. 425. BACK

[10] Joseph Hucks, the Cambridge undergraduate companion of Coleridge on their walking tour of 1794, of which he published an account 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

[11] Unidentified. BACK

[12] A Latin soubriquet of John Winter (dates unknown), a printer who frequently worked on books published by Longman. BACK

[13] The Latin translates as ‘by the whole heaven’. BACK

[14] The common name for mercury chloride, which was taken for various ailments, including syphilis. BACK

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