2166. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 30 October 1812 

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

2166. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 30 October 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov. {Octr.} 30. 1812

My dear Grosvenor

Ecce iterum [1]  – the draft. I suppose the Bankers at whose shop it is made payable will discount it. This is a sort of trouble which I feel some sort of compunction at giving you.

My gentleman says he has been confined to his bed, – & sends me a fresh account, correcting an error of £ 4. in his last, & supplying an omission of £ 32 – which I believe he remembered to forget, being dis inclined to have the life of Aguirre [2]  without paying for it, if I would have suffered him. He tells me there will be a loss upon the thick volumes for 1809, & very little profit upon those for 1810, [3]  & that the price must be raised. My business seems clearly to be to get my money out of the concern, – which most xxx probably will prove no very easy task.

Your case is so well drawn up to my concepts judgement that I should think a medical man could desire nothing more clear: [4]  It is gone to Staffordshire, [5]  & the reply shall be communicated as soon as it arrives.

With your own Omniana [6]  you will get a copy for Blanco, for I think he told me he was ousted from his London lodgings, & I know not where to address them. I wrote to Dr Bell about him, not expecting that Bell himself could do any thing, but with the intention that the letter might be shown to those who could. [7]  The answer represents a difficulty which I had not expected. You shall have it in his own words. “My patronage is very scanty & no prospect of immediate vacancy, & if there were, my good Bishop [8]  claims upon me, & my own Chaplain [9]  considers that he has a right to the first option. Archdeacon Bouyer [10]  is not here; but I have stated to him the case & the claim of your friend, & I shall lose no opportunity of following up what I have begun. But I confess I can hold out no good hopes to you. You know that the late Bishop of London [11]  thought it necessary to make an apology for his having given a living to a foreigner, who was thought to have peculiar merit, [12]  & the jealousy of the Clergy of all such appointments is well known. I mention these things to prevent any reliance on any attempts I may have an opportunity of making, not as an apology for not making them. The best chance, as I conceive, would be with Government, or the Chancellor. [13]  If your friend can recommend himself to them, they might out of the multitude of their livings perhaps spare such a one as might be an object for him. But even here political & parliamentary interest – & also the jealousy of the English as to foreigners may stand in the way.”

Here again Grosvenor we have to regret Mr Perceval.

I will send you up soon the first & probably the second book also of Roderick [14]  tomorrow, under favour of a Review-frank to Gifford. As soon as there is a Grand Parleur [15]  that channel will be open for us. I finished the 9th book yesterday. You will find a long insertion in the second, another to the same purport must be interpolated in the fifth & I believe for the same reason the word Royalty must be discarded from the fourth line of the poem, [16]  – to the great injury of the passage. feudal power – is but a xx poor substitute. But when the poem was begun the character of Roderick was not formed as it is now, & it is well that no other change is rendered necessary by the modification which it has undergone.

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 2 NO 2/ 1812
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Once again’. BACK

[2] The conquistador Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510–1561), notorious for his final expedition down the Amazon in search of El Dorado. Southey’s account of these events appeared in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), [i]–l. It was republished as The Expedition of Orsua; and the Crimes of Aguirre (1821). BACK

[3] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811) and Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

[4] i.e. Bedford’s account of his mother’s health; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 21 October 1812, Letter 2161. BACK

[5] To Mary Barker’s home at Penkridge. BACK

[6] Omniana, or Horae Otiosiores (1812). BACK

[7] Blanco White, who had been ordained as a Catholic priest in 1798, had converted to Anglicanism in 1812. But rather than a clerical position, he received a government subsidy of £250 p.a. for his reports on South America. BACK

[8] Shute Barrington (1734–1826; DNB), Bishop of Durham since 1791. He had promoted both the inter-demoninational Religious Tract Society (founded 1799) and the British and Foreign Bible Society (founded 1804). Bell had become Master of Sherburn Hospital, outside Durham, in 1809. BACK

[9] James Miller (d. 1854). He became Vicar of Pittington and a minor Canon of Durham Cathedral in 1822. BACK

[10] Reynold Gideon Bouyer (1741–1826; DNB), archdeacon of Northumberland since 1812. He took a keen interest in education and, at his own expense, established parochial libraries in every parish in Northumberland. An advocate for Bell’s system, his A Comparative View of the Two New Systems of Education for the Infant Poor (1811) had cautioned against the influence of dissenting teachers. BACK

[11] Beilby Porteus (1731–1809; DNB), bishop of London from 1787 to his death. A supporter of evangelicals and of the abolition of the slave trade. BACK

[12] John Frederick Usko (1760–1841), a Prussian, was appointed by Porteous as Rector of Orsett in Essex. For Porteous’s lengthy explanation, see his letter of 20 July 1808, Ecclesiastical and University Annual Register for 1808 (1809), 145–150. BACK

[13] John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon (1751–1838; DNB), Lord Chancellor 1801–1806, 1807–1827. The Lord Chancellor is, ex officio, the patron of over 500 livings. BACK

[14] A MS draft of part of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[15] ‘Great Speaker’ i.e. The Speaker. Rickman’s patron Charles Abbot was re-elected as The Speaker after the General Election of 1812. BACK

[16] Southey totally re-wrote this passage in the published version. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013