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

2212. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 27 January 1813 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

That I am very much offended, & very much vexed at this dirty fellows proceedings, need not be said. The upshot I dare say will prove as Deacon [1]  expects, & then this will be the last trouble you will have with a business, in which I am very sorry that it has been my ill luck to involve you. I shall have some loss, which is a bad thing, & some trouble, which is worse to a man of my kidney, before I can get rid of him; – rid however I will be; & shall at a convenient season inform him that I unless I a xxxxxxxx an arrangement be made for paying me thro Murray or Longman, I shall withdraw from the Register [2]  as soon as the current volume is concluded. This at all events. But meantime I shall put out my feelers, & endeavour to discover some means of making xx securing an equal income by other means. From what I hear {said} of Rokeby, [3]  it is to be augured (between ourselves) that Scott will get no more three-thousanders, but it is by no means unlikely that I could obtain 500 £ for a poem of equal length, – & it would be less labour to me to produce one than to bring forth one of these xxxx yearly Annals. – Be this as it may I must disentangle myself from all dialogue with a scoundrel.

How is that you do not seem to have received a note of mine accompanying the 4 book of Roderick, [4]  which was franked up to Gifford some week or ten days ago? The 5 & 6th are both nearly transcribed for you. I have finished the 10th & if it be not El imposible vencido, [5]  it is as near tho {like} it as possible. I want two books for the chance of or rather certainty of finding ornament-seeds in them. They are Jornandes, [6]  & Gregory of Tours. [7]  Will you ask Wynn or the Czar, who are in the way of finding such books, to purchase them for me. My subject, singularly rich in other respects, is singularly poor in costume, – & I must hunt for trappings wherever they are to be found.

I never doubted that Coleridges play would meet with a triumphant reception. [8]  But Be it known now, & remembered hereafter, that this self-same play, having had no other alterations made to it now, than C. was willing to have made then, was rejected in 1797 by Sheridan & Kemble: [9]  whereas had these sapient caterers for the public brought it forward {at} that {time}, it is by no means improbable that the author might have produced a play as good every season: with my knowledge of Coleridge’s habits, I verily believe that he would.

Have you had any conversation with Herries about Tom? Of two desirable things, a ship, or the step, – rank would be the best; but either very desirable.

Your public financial news is bad enough. [10]  Concerning my own finances do not be uneasy. Since I wrote my last note to you, I have received a Bill of Sir Shufflers at two months which is put into circulation. Gifford talked of publishing by the beginning of February, he is a bad calculator I believe, – but whenever he does publish, my article [11]  will send me 25 £; & is it deserves the double payment in an especial manner (tho less so than the Inquisition [12]  did) & I am inclined to think that this sweet remuneration will be made. Meantime if I want money, as peradventure may be the case if Gifford is as much behind hand in publication [13]  as usual, I can draw upon Longman.

Your char shall be enquired about without delay. I am not sure that they are in season: & if they are perhaps so many as four dozen of good size may not be to be had on demand – for you know this is not the time when lakers drop in to dinner, & in frosty weather the lake is the safest stew. My next shall unfurl upon this point.

Milman [14]  goes to London in April. He has painted me two pictures the Castle of Almourol, – & a copy of that view on the Agueda.

God bless you


Jany 27. 1813.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 30 JA 30/ 1813
Endorsements: Jany 27. 1813.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Possibly a reference to Southey’s Westminster contemporary Deacon Morrell (1775–1854), a clergyman and landowner who lived at Sackville Street in Westminster. BACK

[2] Southey ceased working for the Edinburgh Annual Register after 1813. BACK

[3] Scott’s Rokeby: A Poem (1813), set during the civil war of the seventeenth century. BACK

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

[5] ‘Triumph over the impossible’. Manuel Larramendi (1690–1766), El Imposible Vencido (1729), a grammar of the notoriously complex Basque language, no. 1606 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] Jornandes (c. mid 6th century), Roman bureaucrat and author of De Getarum (Gothorum) Origine et Rebus Gestis and De Regnorum ac Temporum Successione. Both were widely used by later historians. BACK

[7] St Gregory of Tours (c. 538–594), historian and bishop. An edition of his Historiae Francorum (1561) was no. 1240 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Remorse, staged at Drury Lane, London, 23 January-12 February 1813. This run made it a moderate success. BACK

[9] The actor John Philip Kemble (1757–1823; DNB) and the playwright, theatre proprietor and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816; DNB) had rejected it in 1797, when it was titled ‘Osorio’. BACK

[10] Grosvenor Bedford worked at the Treasury, where there was some worry at the impending deficit in the public finances for 1813–1814. BACK

[11] Southey’s review of Patrick Colquhoun (1745–1820; DNB), Propositions for ameliorating the Condition of the Poor: and For Improving the Moral Habits, and Increasing the Comforts of the Labouring People (1812), appeared in the Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356. It was altered by Gifford and Croker prior to publication. BACK

[12] Southey’s review of 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

[13] i.e. behind with publication of the Quarterly Review. BACK

[14] Either the poet Henry Hart Milman (1791–1868; DNB), or, more likely one of his older brothers, Sir William George Milman, 2nd Baronet (1781–1857), who Southey recorded as staying at Keswick for about a year at this time (see, Robert Southey to Chauncy Hare Townsend, 12 April 1818, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Five). The two paintings were of scenes in Portugal: Almourol Castle, a ruined Templar castle on an island in the Tagus; and a view of the Agueda river, the boundary between Spain and Portugal. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013