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

1830. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 28 November 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov. 28. 1810.

My dear Grosvenor

Omitting sundry other reasons for not writing to you under favour of the parcel (such as having nothing to say, & much to do) – a valid reason was that when I wrote the direction & entrusted it to Johannes Piscator, [1]  for the chance of finding a conveyance, it was very doubtful whether any conveyance would be found, xxx your departure being then fixed for Sunday last. Had the roads been dry I should have walked over to you yesterday, but I am ill shod, for I have nothing but boots to walk in, & it does not do to get wet in them for they are not so easily dried as shoes.

I dare say you are spending your time to great advantage – & yet I wish you had taken advantage of the mild weather for your journey. Travelling in severe cold is a greater evil than you can imagine if you have never experienced it.

I have received the Quarterly, – a very good number, & one that will shake the Edinburgh. Giffard by this time has my Methodist article, which is executed a good deal to my {own} satisfaction. [2]  But as the last number contains so severe an attack upon S. Smith, I have rather advised him to expunge my what I had said upon that worthy Gentleman (the Mr Merryman [3]  of the Scotch Review) lest it should give the work an appearance of personal ill will towards him. [4]  He will use his own judgement.

At length I have good hope of getting good information respecting the Spanish part of my Annals. [5]  I have opened a correspondence with the Duke de Albuquerques [6]  Secretary, – & am about to do the same with Amyot who was Windham’s, [7]  & will transmit any queries & obtain answers from Colonel Carrol. [8]  – Romanas [9]  friend & companion. For these introductions I am beholden to Henry Robinson, to whom I wrote upon the strength of having once met him, & knowing that he & I accorded perfectly upon all points of taste, morals & politics. From the Secretary I expect to obtain the journal of the Siege of Gerona. [10]  All things considered I hope the second vol. of the Register will be better than the first, – at least I xxxxx am sparing no pains to make it so.

The King is no better, – in that quarter things cannot look worse. [11]  Every where else they look well, – for the yellow fever is a calamity which will fall equally {as heavily} on the French {as the} Spaniards, & the weather will soon suspend it at least for the winter. I have ordered a Spanish paper that I may have the genuine proceedings of the Cortes. [12]  Their meeting is indeed a great event. I have no inclination to imitate Hugh Peters [13]  (for whom be it known I have some reverence at heart) – & Dr Price [14]  respecting a premature Nunc Dimittis, [15]  upon so hopeful an occasion, – but would heartily join in a Te Deum. [16]  The freedom of the press is one great blessing obtained. Blakes appointment to the Regency [17]  is another great step – a man of no family chosen for his tried integrity & talents. Hence I augur well for the armies, he knows what men are worthy of command, & will I trust follow the revolutionary system of picking men from the ranks.

I will give you another commission for Brokers Row. [18]  I love a nap sometimes in my chair when my eyes require rest – & I every chair in this house is an anti-easy one. Now buy me a right easy chair, dignified enough in appearance to become my state room, & no matter of what anquitity. xx it be I know of no particular direction, except that it should be high enough for the head to lie back. Of the dignity of the thing you can judge, & can also take measure of the dignity {ease}, every man who is capable of having the humdurgeon carrying the instrument for that about him.

I have not seen Mr Edmondson, – tho we have been expecting him for the last two days to visit Mrs Lovell. The effect of the nitrous acid being so late does not surprize me, – what does surprize is that it has that effect at all – I never having perceived it when it was my ordinary beverage for many months together. [19]  – Every body here desires to be remembered to you; – I shall be anxious to hear of your arrival at home –

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ at Mrs Simsons/ Ambleside.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 28 Novr 1810
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Possibly a reference to John Fisher (dates unknown) of Seatoller. The better-known Johannes Piscator (1546–1625) was a theologian and bible translator. BACK

[2] Southey’s review of Hints to the Public and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister (1809), in Quarterly Review, 4 (November 1810), 480–514. BACK

[3] A stock term for a joker. BACK

[4] Sydney Smith (1771–1845; DNB), one of the founders of and leading contributors to the Edinburgh Review. Smith’s A Sermon Preached Before His Grace the Archbishop of York, and the Clergy, at Malton, at the Visitation, August 1809 (1809) had been savaged in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 185–194. The review has been attributed to John William Ward, Lord Dudley (1781–1833; DNB), with input from William Gifford and John Ireland (1761–1842; DNB). BACK

[5] i.e. Southey’s contributions to the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[6] The Spanish military commander, Jose Miguel de la Cueva, 13th Duke of Alburquerque (1774–1811). BACK

[7] Thomas Amyot had been private secretary to William Windham (1750–1819; DNB) since 1806. BACK

[8] William Parker Carrol (1776–1842), liaison officer between the British and Spanish forces. Later promoted to Major-General and Field Marshal in the Spanish Army. BACK

[9] The Spanish general Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd Marquis of la Romana (1761–1811). BACK

[10] The city of Gerona had fallen to the French on 11 December 1809 after a siege of nearly seven months. Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 728–744. Southey eventually did acquire a copy of Juan Andres Nieto Samaniego (fl. 1810), Memorial Historica de los Sucesos mas Notables de Armas y Estado de la Salud Publica Durante el Ultimo Sitio de la Plaza de Gerona (1810). BACK

[11] George III (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB). George III’s mental health had finally collapsed in October 1810 and he was incapable of conducting public business. BACK

[12] Possibly a reference to what became the 24 volumes of Gazetas from various parts of Spain, 1808–1813, no. 3472 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. However, Southey gained much of his knowledge of the proceedings of the Spanish Cortes from Diario de las Discusiones y Actas de las Cortes, 1810–1813 (1811–1813), no. 3288 in the sale catalogue of his library. The Cortes, a parliament representing Spain and its Empire, met for the first time in Cadiz on 24 September 1810. BACK

[13] The Puritan preacher and polemicist Hugh Peters (1598–1660; DNB). BACK

[14] Richard Price (1723–1791; DNB), dissenting clergyman. Nunc dimittis (‘Now, lettest thou’) is a canticle, named from the first Latin words in Luke 2: 29–32, which expresses the speaker’s joy at Jesus’s birth and the belief that he can now die happy; Te Deum (‘Thee, O God’) is a Latin hymn of thanksgiving. Hugh Peter was alleged at his trial in 1660 to have used the words of Luke 2: 29 in a prayer at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall in 1649, to articulate his happiness at the trial of Charles I (1600–1649; King of Great Britain 1625–1649; DNB); Price had preached a sermon on 4 November 1789 in favour of the French Revolution, in which he used the ‘nunc dimittis’ theme to express his joy at the Revolution. BACK

[15] The ‘Song of Simeon’ (‘Now thou dost dismiss’), Luke 2: 29–32, in which the speaker expresses the thought that he may now die in peace. BACK

[16] ‘Thee, O God’, an early Christian hymn of praise. BACK

[17] The Spanish general Joaquín Blake y Joyes (1759–1827). He was a member of the 5-man Supreme Council of Regency appointed on 28 October 1810. Southey’s faith in him soon waned. BACK

[18] A street in central London, now renamed Blomfield Street; famous for its furniture makers. BACK

[19] In 1799, under the influence of Thomas Beddoes. BACK

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August 2013