1389. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 December 1807

1389. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 December 1807 ⁠* 

5 Dec 1807

My dear Grosvenor

The two halves are safe. [1] 

I thought it likely that I might have seen you next week. But my Uncle is going into Herefordshire to look after some litigious parishioners, & this being the case I shall not turn my face southward till the latter end of January or the beginning of February; – by which time my expected son or daughter will be forth-coming into this world.

Our fathers inform me that about 300 copies of Espriella remain unsold & that probably it would be expedient to begin reprinting it in about a month. [2]  You may have heard or seen that D Manuel has a friend in the Courier & in the Morning Post. [3]  This is Stuarts doing, – who will befriend him still more by giving me some xx facts for what farther is to be added to compleat the object of the book. As for the Specimens I am perfectly satisfied that it will be very easy to metamorphose them into a good book, if ever there should be a second edition – & equally convinced that this opportunity will never be afforded. [4]  It is one of those books of which a foul edition was unavoidable, – but certes it needed not to have been quite so foul as it is. I have seen only one reviewal of it which was in the Universal Magazine some months ago, & there the author contrived to invalidate all the censure which he had past, by abusing me in toto as blockhead, cockscomb &c &c. [5] 

I am a good deal surprized at your saying that the dunces of 1700 were like the dunces of 1800. Surely you have said this without thinking what you were saying. they are as different as the fops of the two periods. – You are wrong also in your praise of Ellis’s book [6]  – his is a very praise-worthy book as far as matter of fact, history & arrangement go. But the moment that ends & the series of specimens begins, all views of manners & all lights of history disappear, & you have little else than a collection of amatory pieces selected with little knowledge & less taste. Whenever I get you by this fire side, with the books & papers at hand, I will in half an hour show you how grievously deficient that book is. – This you may be well assured I should not say to every body.

Could you learn from Gifford who reviewed Thalaba in the British Critic? [7]  – I should much like to know this, as also who reviewed Madoc in the Monthly, [8]  – that I might take an opportunity of showing both gentlemen what a different thing the sting of a dragon is from xxxx the bite of a sucking-flea.

Captain Guillem [9]  is at home in the Isle of Mann, having realized from 10 to 15,000 pounds. He has no chance of being employed, having no interest to get a ship, & what is better no wish to have one. Yet he is precisely such a man as ought to be employed. A true bred English sailor. – let him be at sea for forty years & there would be no mutiny on board his ship. Boy-captains are the persons who make mutinies. Oh Grosvenor Bedford what a pamphlet could I write about the navy if my brother were not in it!

I do not send you Henry Whites Remains, [10]  because tho as many copies were offered me as I should choose to take, I declined taking any more than my single one for myself. I hope they will sell, & believe so, his piety will recommend the book to the Evangelicals, – & xx his genius to men of letters.

God bless you


Dec. 5. 1807.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ DEC 8/ 1807
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 120–122 [in part]. BACK

[1] A secure way of sending money in the post was to tear banknotes in half and send the two halves separately. BACK

[2] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). A second edition was published in 1808. BACK

[3] Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella was the putative hero of Southey’s Letters from England … Translated from the Spanish. In The Courier of 20 November 1807, probably at Coleridge’s instigation, appeared an extract from Letters from England, Letter 38, concerning the exploitation of the poor in the new commercial and manufacturing towns. On 17 November an extract from Letter 36 criticising Birmingham had been published. An advertisement for the book appeared on 1 December. The references in the Morning Post have not been traced. BACK

[4] Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807), co-edited with Bedford, and published, to Southey’s dismay, with numerous errors. Southey was correct in his prediction: a second edition never appeared. BACK

[5] Specimens of the Later English Poets was reviewed in The Universal Magazine, ns. 8 (July 1807), 32–36. BACK

[6] George Ellis, Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances (1805). BACK

[7] The review appeared in the British Critic, 18 (1801), 309–310. The reviewer is unidentified. BACK

[8] John Ferriar (1761–1815; DNB) reviewed Madoc in the Monthly Review, 48 (1805), 113–122. BACK

[9] John Quilliam (1771–1829), a farmer’s son of the Isle of Man, had visited Southey in November 1807; see Southey to John Rickman, 24 November 1807, Letter 1381. Quilliam was First Lieutenant on Nelson’s flagship, the Victory, during the battle of Trafalgar (1805). He was made captain in 1807. BACK

[10] The Remains of Henry Kirke White, of Nottingham (1807), which was edited by Southey. BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Stuart, Daniel (1766–1846) (mentioned 1 time)
Ellis, George (1753–1815) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)