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

2152. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 September 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Sept. 29. 1812

My dear Grosvenor

I have stolen away from an evening party at the Senhora’s to write to you. & the first thing to be said is that I have given Mr Downman [1]  a draft x upon your worship at three days sight, for £16–10/ – three days sight I said, because the presentation being duly announced, there can be no inconvenience in not finding you at home &c–. Every body seemed so pleased with his portrait that I have had another {taken} (which might p almost pass for a fac-simile of it, if the position of the arms & body were not different) This I had done for Edith who was reasonably enough dissatisfied with the two ill-looking miniatures. [2]  Downman has given me a companion to it, in her portrait, every body exclaims at the happiness of the likeness. I see it less than any xx body, – still I see it, & it is a very pleasant picture. The draft is for my own portrait & the two frames, which he will provide for me according to his own taste.

The Common place book [3]  shall go tomorrow, I will send with a book [4]  of John Mays which I wanted an opportunity of sending to London. You will have the goodness to get it conveyed to him, according to its direction.

I received Giffords letter with the draft, & must tell you (tho he desired it might be between x ourselves) that he in a very friendly manner desired me at any time when I might be out of cash to draw upon him at sight, & pay him at leisure; – an offer for which I am as sincerely obliged to him as if I could accept of it. But in the first place I am almost a stranger to G. & in the second, according to the present state of my affairs, & the probable prospect, I am not likely to feel any other want than what will may be supplied by requesting you to send me a quarter pension a few weeks before it is due, – & that perhaps may not occur again, for every year is now bettering my worldly condition. – I have an answer from that shuffling fellow John Ballantyne to my {that} xx letter which you saw. He was in London & his brother who had opened his mine, sent him notice of its contents. so he writes to say he hopes his brother has explained & apologized to me about the Chronicle, – that he hopes I will resume it, – & that about the other points he will reply as soon as he gets back to Edinburgh. [5]  – Reply how he may, he has shuffled with me, & I am perfectly aware that nothing but a sense of his own interest will make him behave either with civility or xx honesty. As soon as I can get his account & his address I shall draw upon him for every farthing which is due to me.

My brother Harry I hear is in town, but whether at this time he is with Dr Gooch in Aldermanbury, or at Streatham I do not know.

Tell G. I am writing for him, & therefore will not subduct time precious time for the purpose of writing to him. – Since you left us some little progress has been made with Pelayo, or Roderick as we must call it for the future, [6]  – & what is of more importance the main difficulty in the management of the story seems to be removed.

Dawe, [7]  whose genius soars as Eagles flight, has removed his easel to day into my room, where Kate & Bertha lay by turns for about an hour to be made Eagles prey for him, – much to the Painters contentment. [8]  – The Senhora has been highly flattered to day by an application from Mr Edmondson, who requested that he purchase a pound of her Epsom salts, – because he despaired of getting any so good. She gave him about half-a pound, & told him she hoped that would answer any present want, but she could part with no more. He seems to look upon her house as a second Apothecaries Hall.

You know Downman is about to publish a series of portraits of the English Reformers. [9]  he meant to accompany each head with a page of brief biographical notices. I have offered to write an inscription for each, this I could do con amore, [10]  whether it will be done depends upon Murray. [11] 

Remember me to your father & mother. the Mag: Rut: & Miss Page – How did the chair arrive? – Remember also that you half promised me a picture of yourself.

God bless you

RS.

Dr Bell arrived to day to occupy your lodgings, before he goes to Rose Castle [12]  on his way Eastward.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 2 OC 2/ 1812s
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Downman (1750–1824; DNB), who in autumn 1812 painted two portraits of Southey (one commissioned by Murray) and one of Edith. BACK

[2] It is not clear which portraits Southey is referring to here. BACK

[3] Southey might have lent Bedford one of his own common place books; or he could be returning one of Bedford’s own books. BACK

[4] Possibly a copy of the Cartas dos Privilegios de Nacam Britannica em Portugal (1746), which Southey had borrowed from John May. BACK

[5] Southey was already having trouble extracting money from the Ballantynes. The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813) was to be his last. BACK

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[7] The history and portrait painter George Dawe (1781–1829; DNB). BACK

[8] Dawe’s residence at Greta Hall whilst he worked on the 9 foot by 8 foot canvas ‘Mother Rescuing her Child from an Eagle’s Nest’ was not without controversy. The picture was based on William Hayley’s (1745–1820; DNB), ‘The Eagle’, first published in Designs to a Series of Ballads (1802). BACK

[9] Downman did not complete this project. In his retirement he arranged his preliminary sketches for portraits of ‘Distinguished Persons’ into a series of albums. BACK

[10] ‘With love’. BACK

[11] Southey did not write the inscriptions. BACK

[12] The home of the Bishop of Carlisle, in 1812 Samuel Goodenough (1743–1827; DNB). BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013