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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

1732. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 12 January 1810 ⁠* 

Jany 12. 1809. 1810

My dear Grosvenor

I was startled yesterday at seeing in the papers that poor Barre Roberts is dead. – Had he gone abroad when the first symptoms appeared this might perhaps have been prevented, – but {in such cases} there is no other chance whatever. I am sorry for you & his nearer friends, & sorry regret the loss of a young man who had given hopeful promise of good. This perhaps has occasioned your long silence for it seems unusually long since I heard from you.

My frames are arrived – the Idiotic maker sent them by the Mail instead of the Waggon in consequence of which I have a guinea carriage to pay, & the large glass is of course broken. Certes I ought not to pay for it, – when you call to pay the bill, do your best to make him settle with the coach if about the damage, – tho I suppose the loss will fall upon me at last. I do not mean to impose any farther lip-litigation upon you than you feel to be seemly upon such an occasion, – but it was so confoundedly stupid a trick, that I am more provoked at the folly, than the mischief which it has occasioned; & you will soon find out whether there is any redress to be had.

You will soon see the conclusion of Kehama. [1]  In transcribing for the press, a job which is half-done, I have doggedly corrected it, & am in daily expectation of the first proof from Ballantyne. This is one of the pleasures of life.

I am reviewing the Life of Nelson, [2]  & the mention of the intercepted Letters [3]  there reminds me of an anecdote concerning them. I doubted th the truth of some of those letters, – & mentioned my doubts in conversation to Coleridge, – what I said struck him as being well-founded – he examined into the letters themselves, & the result was some letters upon the subject in the Morning Post. One letter more was to have concluded the investigation, & this was lying upon the Editors table one day when Sheridan [4]  called upon him. Stuart showed it him. Sh. dissuaded him from printing it, saying it would hurt his paper; – xxx & to prevent him from so doing – took away the MSS. – Sometime afterward he made a speech [5]  in the house, the whole matter & the whole force of which was from this very letter. – This we have from Stuart himself

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: G.C.B.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[2] For Southey’s review of John Charnock (1756–1806; DNB), Biographical Memoirs of Lord Viscount Nelson, &c., &c., &c.; with Observations, Critical and Explanatory (1806); James Harrison (d. 1847), The Life of Lord Nelson (1806); T. O. Churchill (fl. 1800–1823), The Life of Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronté, &c (1808); and James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB) and John McArthur (1755–1840; DNB), The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. from his Lordship’s Manuscripts (1809); see Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. It was later expanded into a full-scale Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[3] Copies of Original Letters from the French Army in Egypt … Intercepted by the British Fleet in the Mediterranean (1798–1800), edited by William Gifford and George Canning. Southey quoted from the Letters in his review of lives of Nelson in the Quarterly Review (p. 248). In Morning Post articles of 3 February 1800 and 17 February 1800, Coleridge set out to prove the letters were a forgery by the British government. In a final article on 17 March 1800, Coleridge concluded that the British were themselves the dupes of a French Republican forgery. BACK

[4] The playwright, theatre proprietor and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816; DNB). BACK

[5] Possibly a reference to Sheridan’s speech in the Commons of 27 March 1801, in which he had doubted the authenticity of the Intercepted Letters. BACK

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August 2013