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

2344. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 December 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec. 10. 1813.

My dear Grosvenor

Your note of the 8th was quite a relief to me, – for I had been dreaming disturbedly every night of you & your father for the last two nights.

First about the Carmen Annuum, [1]  – I recollected while transcribing it for the press that there was no such adjective as Annualis, – which was lucky; as the Longmen are not scholars enough to have set me right, & the blunder would have looked ill in the an Advertisement. The copy which you have was made for your pleasure, & for nothing else. I have inserted five stanzas in place of the first half of the 9th, – relating to Spain. They are in keeping with the rest, & contain a wipe at some of our lilly-livered politicians, which will serve to bring in an extract {or two} from the Edinburgh Review in the notes. As for the poem it is necessarily rather an oration in verse than an ode, – for which reason I have given it a generic name, – Carmen being any kind of poem.

Many of your criticisms on these books [2]  are well founded, & shall have all the attention which I am capable of giving them. I shall alter the arrangement of the first ten lines, & endeavour to get rid of the “feudal Power” which so awkwardly supplies the original ‘Royalty. [3]  – The second book would be too long if I were writing a poem upon one of the plan of the Æneid, – but I must make the plan suit the subject, & excite not only compassion for Roderic but a disposition to excuse him. – The inconsistency of being shocked at the thought of leaving his body to the birds is perfectly natural. [4]  Gales restore the sun when they sweep away the clouds. [5]  – It is necessary to lay the Image in the rock, [6]  – because that is the Legend upon which the story of the poem is built. That Image is Our Lady of Nazareth, – a personage who once put me in bodily danger {fear}, – for I happened to be upon the Tagus when she & the Prince [7]  in her train were crossing it, & I was literally caught in a shower of sky-rockets which were sent up to her honour, & glory, & came down to my great terror & no little danger. [8] 

I have no time to notice the points in which I agree with you, nor those all those in which our judgements differ. The Ode has cost me more time than it is worth, & I am now preparing a few notes which will be of essential use – in filling a few pages.

The half notes are safe. The Docster should have paid a bookbinders bill, – I suppose however he had not received it, & also that the fee-searchers of the Court had not found him out.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 13 DE 13/ 1813
Endorsement: Decr. 10. 1813
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s first official poem as Poet Laureate was extremely controversial and much altered prior to publication. Five stanzas were considered by Croker and Rickman to be inflammatory. Southey bowed to pressure and deleted them from the version published as Carmen Triumphale in a quarto of 30 pages on 1 January 1814. He incorporated the deleted stanzas into an ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, published in the Courier 3 February 1814. BACK

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

[3] Southey re-wrote this section totally for Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[4] Roderick, the last of the Goths (1814), Book 2, lines 39–41. BACK

[5] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 2, lines 91–92. BACK

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 2, lines 250–253. BACK

[7] John VI (1767–1826), Prince Regent of Portugal 1799–1816, King of Portugal 1816–1826. BACK

[8] See Adolfo Cabral, Robert Southey: Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800–1801 and a Visit to France 1838 (Oxford, 1960), p. 19 and n. 1. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013