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

1737. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 January 1810 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

The halves [1]  are arrived, – moon-bending is bending like the moon – but may as well be struck out altogether. I do not admit the validity of your other objections. [2]  The rhymes are purposely reiterated in the one instance, & the redundant syllable {in the other} justified by the action which it describes. As for the Criticks – there are so many Camels for them in this poem, that a few gnats more or less will make no difference. [3]  This I can tell you that in transcribing for the press I correct it with infinite care, – over & over & over again. Still it will be condemned as careless – because ordinary readers do not understand what carelessness is. I know very few persons will like it, & that there will be a great outcry against it. Had I in fact predetermined to write something which should be as offensive to common taste as possible I could not have succeeded better. Yet God knows this was not my intention.

The first proof is now before me, & I am very happy over it. How it will astonish you by & by to find Kehama in eight places at once. [4]  I pride myself upon having (in this portion) managed the thousand and one arms of the Hindoo Gods skilfully. [5] 

Tom is in the Lyra [6]  at present.

God bless you

RS.

Jany 29. 1810.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ [in another hand] Exchequer/ J.C. Herries
Endorsement: 29 Jany 1810
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] i. e. half-banknotes – a secure way of sending money in the post, by tearing banknotes in half and sending the two halves separately. BACK

[2] Southey is replying to Bedford’s critique of a MS of The Curse of Kehama, published later in 1810. ‘Moon-bending’ did not appear in the final version of the book. It was originally intended for a deleted passage in Book 16, describing Ladurlad’s battle with a serpent. BACK

[3] An adaptation of Matthew 23: 24, ‘Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel’. BACK

[4] The Curse of Kehama (1810), Book 24, lines 14–25. BACK

[5] The Curse of Kehama (1810), Book 24, lines 59–62. BACK

[6] HMS Lyra, a 10-gun class brig-sloop, launched in 1808. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013