2219. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 February 1813 

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

2219. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 February 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Feby 10. 1813

My dear Grosvenor

Thank you for the notes. [1] 

Your last letter noticed the arrival of the 3d book of Roderick [2]  – which had been lying some ten days at Giffords, – & this you have no doubt x recollected ere this. The 7th & 8th I gave Lord Sunderlin this morning to take to Harry, thinking that as he will be about five days on the road they will meet their predecessors there, & save the trouble of one transfer. The latter of these will be new to you, – & by the time you get them I shall have transcribed & sent off to you the two following, – beyond which the poem has not yet proceeded, – except more than a few lines.

Whenever your comments arrive all due attention shall be paid to them. I myself anticipate little immediate success for the poem: – the mere accidental & temporary interest which it might have excited from its accommodation to passing events, will, most probably have past away before it is published; & it will have little of that novelish excitement which is what ordinary readers look for. I proceed it with it in a temper proof against disappointment hoping nothing as to its present reputation, but looking to its future rank in full faith. There will be a great deal to do in ornamenting, stiffening & stately-fying the parts where the author speaks, which ought to have a more elaborate character than such as are dramatic.

I will take the opportunity of writing to Herries when the life of Nelson [3]  is published. I have dedicated this book to Croker, with a secret notion that the compliment – tho unaccompanied by any complimentary language, [4]  may help Tom to a ship, – or to the next step, which would be the better thing of the two. It is unlucky that the Quarterly is precluded from giving it a lift which might have carried off half the edition, – but having originated in the Review it is impossible to notice it there.

I am hard at work upon the Register; – this day is employed in West Indian affairs & in writing to the honour & glory of blind Tobin. [5] 

Did I tell you that I had conceived of a work which would be well worthy of all the labour that could be bestowed upon it, – & xxx xx {for} which some of the best matter both in my Annual [6]  & Quarterly reviewals xxxx might serve to be worked in as materials? – A view of the revolutions in all parts & in all things which have taken place during the last half-century, – skimming the cream of histor events, – but laying their roots bare, – & looking on to their remotest consequences. The Age of George 3. [7]  the title: – the object a philosophers-eye view of the world. [8]  I must talk with Murray upon this scheme, which bids fair to supply ways & means in place of my engagements with Sir Shuffler. – Its extent might be not less than three octavos, not more than four. There would be a great fitness in it, because I should contrive to write a good deal of it first for the Quarterly, & so be paid in that shape. And as I feel no doubt whatever of making it a good book, I have very little of its being a succesful one.

I have a letter tonight from John W Knox [9]  – Deans Yard, requesting to know whether my name has been cut out in any part of the school – x x he is much more likely to know than I can be. – The stone which the builders rejected may perhaps become the capital of their column, – & I have pleasant recollections enough connected with Westminster to feel gratified that it should be so. I must write this youngster some civil answer which is all he wants.

Have you seen Coleridges play? [10]  – full of incongruities, but full of rich poetry & fine stage effect. He will if he writes more (as I hope & rather expect he will) write better dramas, – but his mind is not essentially dramatic.

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 13 FE 13/ 1813
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Banknotes. BACK

[2] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), which Bedford was reading in MS. BACK

[3] Southey’s review of John Charnock (1756–1806; DNB), Biographical Memoirs of Lord Viscount Nelson, &c., &c., &c.; with Observations, Critical and Explanatory (1806); James Harrison (d. 1847), The Life of Lord Nelson (1806); T. O. Churchill (fl. 1800–1823), The Life of Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronté, &c (1808); and James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB) and John McArthur (1755–1840; DNB), The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. from his Lordship’s Manuscripts (1809), see Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262, was later expanded into a full-scale Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[4] The Life of Nelson (1813) was ‘RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED’ to Croker ‘WHO, BY THE OFFICIAL SITUATION [Secretary to the Admiralty] WHICH HE SO ABLY FILLS, IS QUALIFIED TO APPRECIATE THEIR HISTORICAL ACCURACY; AND WHO, AS A MEMBER OF THE REPUBLIC OF LETTERS, IS EQUALLY QUALIFIED TO DECIDE UPON THEIR LITERARY MERITS’. BACK

[5] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 17, praised Tobin’s efforts to improve the treatment of slaves in the Leeward Islands. Tobin, it noted, was ‘highly and deservedly esteemed by all to whom he is known’; 192–202, dealt with the West Indies. BACK

[6] Southey had contributed to the Annual Review from 1803–1808. BACK

[7] George III (1738–1820; King of the United Kingdom 1760–1820; DNB). BACK

[8] See Southey to John Murray, 31 March 1813, Letter 2238. ‘A View of the World’ was never written. BACK

[9] John William Knox (1784–1862), an usher at Westminster School 1806–1821, clergyman and Latin scholar. BACK

[10] Remorse, staged at Drury Lane, London, 23 January-12 February 1813. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013