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

2046. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 February 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Feby 24. 1812

Thank you my dear Grosvenor for the money. – I am as you may imagine on the tip toe of expectation for the musical instruments. And had the other instruments been at hand, I should have sent the contents of one last night out of the window, to whistle over the heads of some fellows who amused themselves by breaking open my out houses. [1] 

The annunciation of Pelayo [2]  rests with the Longmen, – it will not make me hurry the publication, but it may excite an expectation useful to the sale of the book whenever it appears. It would have been finished ere now if it were not the humour of this age to pay me better for reviewing bad books, than for writing what I believe to be good ones.

I am right glad to hear you talk of accompanying Blanco. Your old host [3]  is going on well, & will no doubt be right glad to see you well pleased to hear of your purpose . We are in a dismal state of dilapidation. This as the stutterer said of the Church is a dam da-a-a-m house. A leak has sprung in the chimney of the south wing, which cannot be cured till the spring, & which meantimes render one room entirely uninhabitable, & another only habitable, – because necessity having no legs cannot run out of it. I literally expect to be rotted out of the house by incurable damps by the time my first term expires.

Coleridge arrivd on Wednesday last. I am glad you have heard him lecture, because it must have convinced you that I have not exaggerated, or over-rated his intellectual powers. [4] 

If my Inquisition article [5]  should be so praised as to be thought worthy of ‘sweet remuneration” [6]  in the form of double pay, – then shall I sing Te Murray Laudamus. [7]  Jeffrey I believe always pays {takes} himself 20 guineas a sheet, & mostly pays it. That was a disgraceful article upon Courayer [8]  in the last number, for if the writers principle were followed up it would lead to all the evils of an Index Expurgatorius, [9]  & make it every mans duty to destroy manuscripts which were not perfectly orthodox in his conceit. O my dear Grosvenor, how easy is {would} it be to defend the Church against her enemies, – were it not for some of her friends. Is this article Dr Irelands or Johnny Doyleys’? [10]  – That young Badgers got hold of the Bible Society in a former number, & heaven knows whether he meant to blow hot or cold. [11] 

I have a world of work upon my hands. – Three {Spanish} poems to look thro at least for this Roncesvalles subject, containing from 100, to 120,000 verses. [12]  One of them of 40,000 to read thro. And here is a proof from Edinburgh with the comfortable notice affixed to it that ‘as much more copy as convenient is requested”. [13]  Francis at the Boars Head xxx in East Cheap was but a type of me. [14] 

My first letter of leisure will be to Blanco.

God bless you



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

[1] Southey had asked Bedford to send pistols, watchmens’ rattles and other items to help protect his home against intruders; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 January 1812, Letter 2018. BACK

[2] The early incarnation of what became Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). It was announced in, for example, Select Reviews of Literature, 7 (1812), p. 272. BACK

[3] Possibly a reference to the Crosthwaite family. Peter Crosthwaite (1735–1808), was a retired naval commander, publisher of maps and inventor of the aeolian harp. In the 1780s he established the first museum in Keswick. Its treasures included a set of musical stones, a stuffed albatross and a pig with no legs. By 1811 the Museum was run by his son Daniel (c. 1776–1847), a portrait painter. BACK

[4] Coleridge had lectured on Shakespeare and Milton at Scot’s Corporation Hall, London, between 18 November 1811 and 27 January 1812. Bedford had clearly attended at least one lecture. BACK

[5] The History of the Inquisitions; including the Secret Transactions of those Horrific Tribunals (1810); Letter upon the Mischievous Influence of the Spanish Inquisition as it actually exists in the Provinces under the Spanish Government. Translated from El Español, a periodical Spanish Journal published in London (1811); Narrativa da Perseguição de Hippolyto Joseph Da Costa Pereira Furtado de Mendonça, Natural da Colonia do Sacramento, no Rio-da-Prata, prezo e Processado em Lisboa pelo pretenso Crime de Fra-Maçon, ou Pedreiro Livre (1811), Quarterly Review, 6 (December 1811), 313–357. BACK

[6] Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act 3, scene 1, lines 170–171 (adapted). BACK

[7] ‘Thee, O Murray, we praise’, a variation on the opening of the Latin hymn, ‘Te Deum’. BACK

[8] The review by John Ireland (1761–1842; DNB), Sub-Dean (1806–1816), then Dean (1816–1842) of Westminster Abbey, of Dr William Bell’s (1731–1816; DNB) edition of Peter Francis Courayer (1681–1776), Traité où l’on Expose ce que l’Ecriture Nous Apprend de la Divinité de Jésus Christ (1810) in Quarterly Review, 6 (December 1811), 391–405; which argued that because the ‘doctrine contained in this book be contrary to the scriptures … the publication of it in an evil in the highest degree, and therefore ought, on no account, to have taken place’ (404). BACK

[9] The list of books that Catholics should not read, drawn up by the Inquisition and maintained 1559–1966. BACK

[10] The review has been attributed to John Ireland (1761–1842; DNB) and not to the Reverend George D’Oyley (1778–1846). BACK

[11] The article on Christopher Wordsworth (1774–1846; DNB), Reasons for Declining to become a Subscriber to the British and Foreign Bible Society (1810); John Shore, 1st Baron Teignmouth (1751–1834; DNB), A Letter to the Rev. Christopher Wordsworth, D.D. in Reply to his Strictures &c.(1810); Christopher Wordsworth, A Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Teignmouth, &c. in Vindication of ‘Reasons’ &c.; William Dealtry (1775–1847; DNB), A Letter to the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth, &c. (1810); and John Hume Spry (1777–1854), An Inquiry into the Claims of the British and Foreign Bible Society (1810), in Quarterly Review, 4 (August 1810), 68–80. Its author was John Ireland, not George D’Oyley. BACK

[12] Southey was reviewing Richard Wharton (1764/5–1828), Ronscevalles: A Poem (1812) for the Quarterly, see his letter to John Murray, 19 May 1812, Letter 2097. In the event, the review was either not written or was not published. BACK

[13] i.e. Ballantyne was demanding more copy for the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

[14] An overworked ale-house servant in Henry IV. Part 1. BACK

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August 2013