1508. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 September 1808

1508. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 September 1808 ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

My blood is boiling at the infamous misconduct in Portugal. Sir A Wellesley ought to be shot for fighting with half his army, – <which he did> because if he had waited till the other half came up, a General would by that time have landed & superseded him. & Sir Hew D. ought to be shot for the rascally terms by which he has stipulated to do for the French just the very thing in the world which they must be most desirous of having done for them. [1] 

I feel for General Moore. [2]  My God are we for ever to go under the guidance of blockheads till some desperate revolution sets us on a par with our neighbours!

Grosvenor should we do as well as the Spaniards have done, if a great French army were in the country? I believe we should, – but upon my soul I do not wonder at those who think otherwise; – for it is my firm opinion that a very large proportion of this nation would care nothing xxx for the honour & independence of the nation <England>, provided their manufactories went on, their breweries flourished, [3]  & their salaries were paid.

Huzza for the Spaniards. Viva Santiago! Viva N. Señora del Pilar! [4]  I would have added St George for Merry England, – but by God England has no reason to be merry, & St George ought to be ashamed of us.

God bless you


Sunday Sept 18. 1808.

After the next number of Kehama you will come upon new ground. I hope you have franked off the former ones. [5]  Poor Tom cries out for letters letters – & wishes for them as a man upon short allowance of drink wishes for water, – these will be as good as letters. [6] 


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ [in another hand] Exchequer/ No 9 Stafford Place/ Pimlico
Endorsement: 18 Septr 1808
Postmark: 8 o’Clock/ 22 SP / 1808 Mn
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s exasperation was caused by the Convention of Cintra, signed on 30 August, whereby the French army commanded by Jean-Andoche Junot (1771–1813) and defeated by Anglo-Portuguese forces under Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington) at Vimeiro on 21 August, was allowed to retreat intact, with its weapons, from Portugal. Wellesley, who did not sign the Convention, had been superseded in command by two veteran generals, just arrived in Iberia, who were content to make peace: Sir Harry Burrard (1755–1813; DNB) and Sir Hew Dalrymple. Public outcry led to an inquiry, after which Burrard and Dalrymple never again took command. BACK

[2] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command of the British troops in the Iberian peninsula. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna. BACK

[3] Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB), brewer, Whig politician and advocate of a negotiated peace with Napoleon. BACK

[4] Saints beloved of the Spanish: St James and Our Lady of the Pillar – a title given the Virgin Mary owing to a James’s vision of her founding a basilica at Zaragosa. BACK

[5] Southey was sending his brother drafts of The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[6] Postscript written upside down at the top of the page. BACK