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

1913. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [April 1811] ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

As the inclosed letter for the Twopenny post stands in need of a free passage to London I inclose it to you instead of Rickman, for the sake of indulging you at the same time with the whole passage De Potentiâ, – as extracted by me some seven years ago from the Bishops sermons. [1]  Pray you, read it to the end, & then I dare be sworn you will never forget it.

I should right gladly avail myself of your architectural erudition if it would serve, – but I am afraid that both upon the buildings themselves, & the rules observed therein your learning information is likely to be xx of too late a date to be applicable to the year 716. – A poverty of costume is the only defect in the story which I have chosen. You know I am prone enough to indulge in description, – but here I shall little opportunity for any except of natural scenery. [2] 

I wish the sheets of the review [3]  had been sent me while the press has been thus long standing. They would probably have received that sort of polish, which never can be given to your own sentences till they come to you in printers characters.

These disturbances over the country have a serious aspect. Look at Espriella upon the chances of revolution in this country, [4]  – & look at the last years Register p. 229 upon the present state of Jacobinism & you will see what my feelings are upon this subject. [5]  It is many years since I said that a Government which founds its prosperity upon manufactures, sleeps upon gunpowder. [6]  – But I must write upon the Poor for Gifford, [7]  & then touch upon this perilous topic –

I hope you fumigated your house with brim brimstone – a remedy approvd of in the book of Genesis. [8] 

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer./ [in another hand] J. C. Herries
Endorsement: April 1811
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Of Power’. This extract was possibly from William Warburton (1698–1779; Bishop of Gloucester 1759–1779; DNB), Sermons and Discourses on Various Subjects and Occasions, 3 vols (London, 1767), III, p. 243. BACK

[2] This paragraph relates to Southey’s plans for what became Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[3] Southey’s review of Sir Charles William Pasley (1780–1861; DNB), Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire (1810), Quarterly Review, 5 (May 1811), 403–457. BACK

[4] ‘Do I then think that England is in danger of revolution? If the manufacturing system continues to be extended, increasing as it necessarily does increase the number, the misery, and the depravity of the poor, I believe that revolution inevitably must come, and in its most fearful shape’, Letters from England, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, p. 133. BACK

[5] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 229. BACK

[6] Letters from England, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, p. 133. BACK

[7] The first of a series of Southeyan articles on the poor appeared in the Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. It was possibly co-authored with John Rickman and was intended as ‘an attack upon Malthus’, amongst others; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 January 1813, Letter 2199. BACK

[8] Genesis 19: 24: the biblical fumigation is of Sodom and Gomorrah. BACK

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August 2013