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

2373. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 January 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick. 29 Jany. 1814

I write to you again because I have something to say. Imprimis [1]  – have you, or have you not sent me the 6th 7th. 8th. 9th & 10th books of Roderick? [2]  For I am this day sending off the 3d 4th & 5th to the printer, & under the notion that you had returned all except the 11th, have had a ten minutes fruitless hunt for them. – The three first proofs are now before me; – the poem thus far, looks remarkably well in its new dress, – & when I tell you that some of your xx criticisms appear to me totally groundless, you will not suspect me of saying more than the truth when I add that there are others for which the poem is now in many places much the better.

Secondly I hope you have secured the manuscript of my article on the Dissenters, [3]  – in which I suspect Gifford has done more mischief than usual. Merely in cutting open the leaves I perceived some omissions which one would think the very Demon of stupidity had prompted. You may remember the manner in which I had illustrated Messrs Bogue & Bennets mention of Paul & Timothy; – he has retained the quotation & cut out the comment upon it. I believe the article has lost about two pages in this way. – The only other instance which caught my eye will show you the spirit in which he has gone to work. B & B claim Milton, Defoe &c as Dissenters. I called them blockheads for not perceiving that it was “to their catholick & cosmopolite intellect” that these men owed their immortality, not to their sectarian opinions & the exterminating pen has gone thro the words catholick & cosmopolite. There is also a foolish insertion stuck in to introduce the last paragraph, which at once attenuates the it, & xxx says ‘now I am going to say something fine’ – instead of letting the feeling rise at once from the subject. It is well perhaps that the convenience of this quarterly incoming makes me placable, – or I should some day tell Gifford that tho I have nothing to say against any alteration omission which may be made for political or prudential motives, – yet when the question comes to a mere matter of opinion in regard to the wording of a sentence, my judgement is quite as likely to be right as his. – You will really render me a great service by preserving my manuscript reviewals. For some of these articles may most probably be reprinted whenever my Operas come to be printed in a collected form after I am gone; – & these rejected passages will then be thought of most value.

Thirdly I wish you would, as soon as you can, call on Gifford, & tell him, – not this what I have been saying, – for I have got rid of my gall in thus tell letting you know what I feel upon the subject, – but that I will review Duppas pamphlett about Junius, & the Memoirs for his next number. [4]  Perhaps I may succeed in this, as in approaching Junius I shall take rather a wider moral view xxxx of political morality than he & his admirers have done.

Some unknown author has sent me a poem called the Missionary, not well arranged, but written with great feeling & beauty. I shall very likely do him a good turn in the Quarterly. [5]  It is Ercilla’s story groundwork with a new story made to fit the leading facts. [6] 

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 1 FE 1/ 1814
Endorsement: 29 Jany. 1814
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 58–60 [in part]. BACK

[1] ‘Firstly’. BACK

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

[3] Southey’s review of David Bogue (1750–1825; DNB) and James Bennet (1774–1862; DNB), The History of Dissenters, from the Revolution in 1688–to the Year 1808 (1812); Walter Wilson (1781–1847; DNB), History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches (1808–1814); Neal’s History of the Puritans (1812), Quarterly Review, 10 (October 1813), 90–139. Southey was particularly outraged by the changes at 132 (Paul and Timothy); 135 (Milton and Defoe); and 139 (final paragraph). BACK

[4] Junius was the pseudonym used by the author – or authors – of a series of letters published in the Public Advertiser between 21 January 1769 and 21 January 1772. The letters took a high Whig line. They opposed the policies of the government and the king and were generally supportive of those of the ex-Prime Minister George Grenville (1712–1770; DNB) and of the radical politician John Wilkes (1725–1797; DNB). There was, from the outset, much debate as to the identity of their author or authors. In 1813 Duppa’s Memoirs by a Celebrated Literary and Political Character had attempted to prove Richard Glover (1712–1785; DNB) was the author of Junius’s letters. (It was a contribution to an ongoing controversy. In the same year, John Taylor’s A Discovery of the Author of the Letters of Junius proposed another, more plausible, though equally controversial, candidate: the politician and writer Sir Philip Francis (1740–1818; DNB).) Duppa defended himself against his critics in an anonymous pamphlet, An Inquiry Concerning the Author of the Letters of Junius, with Reference to the Memoirs by a Celebrated Literary and Political Character (1814). Southey did not review Duppa’s pamphlet for the Quarterly. BACK

[5] William Lisle Bowles’s anonymously published The Missionary; A Poem (1813). Southey did not review it for the Quarterly. BACK

[6] The comparison was between Bowles’s poem and Alonso de Ercilla y Zuniga’s (1533–1594) epic about the conquest of Chile, La Araucana (1569–1589). BACK

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August 2013