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

2412. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [30 April-1 May 1814]⁠* 

Last night Sir Grosvenor I wrote the following lines. Tellez-vous me votre opinion whether they are too much in character to be prefixed to Roderick

Prince, I approach thee not with common strain {flattery}
On temporal theme, soon framed, nor lasting long;
Nor will {do} I seek with gratulations vain
To win thine ear: what need the poets song
To join the general praise where all rejoice,
And grateful nations with one heart & voice
Thee & thy counsels bless? Let History pay, {History will shall pay}
Then most extolling both when most sincere,
The eternal meed to George & England due!
Hither I come with this elaborate lay
The thoughtful work of many a studious {patient} year; {patient toil severe}
Thro the long course of &c
So may I best becoming sense display
Of the high honour by thy hand conferrd
On no unworthy servant of the Muse:
Nor eer to thy dispraise shall it be heard
That me to be {Southey for} they Laureat thou didst chuse. [1] 

I give it to you with its variæ lectiones  [2]  as it at present stands. The conclusion grew out of the rhymes, & is not what was at first intended. I meant to have wound it up in this manner – that no age would have left more for posterity than that of his administration, – & that when all those things were remembered which were worthy of remembrance this (poem) perhaps would be one of them. How this might look in rhyme I am too busy & too idle to try, since the other rhymes came in my way. – It will be some time before the poem is published as you well know, – quite long enough to deliberate upon the fitness or unfitness of such a dedication, – for if I were ever so much in love with it now, that love would have leisure to cool. I am a little afraid of sending it to Croker, as foreseeing a very likely dilemma, – that he may object to the manner of this & that yet having offered it to his notice I contract an obligation of dedicating {find myself obliged to dedicate} it to the Prince, in some other manner, – to which I am altogether disinclined

____

Sunday

Tomorrow I shall send you the 17 Book of Roderick viâ Gifford. return it as soon as it has made its rounds. I am far advanced in the 18th

I am sorry to see that Herriess brother is wounded. [3] 

There is a tragedy dedicated to me, called Mustapha: a good play, written with dramatic ability, but an absence of poetical beauty, which I know not whether to think intentional, or natural. [4]  Of the author I know nothing except his name, which he has desired me not to repeat – And as another of the honours of this world – I was invited to d I have received a card to dine yesterday at the Royal Academy. [5] 

God bless you

RS.

The Bust? the Bust?

the Bust? [6] 

Inter honores [7]  – I forgot to tell you that the Proprietor of the European Magazine asks for my portrait. [8]  xxxxx b had Isaac Reid [9]  been living I should have been felt uncomfortable in refusing it.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 30 Apl 1 May 1814./ Dedication of Roderick
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The lines were not prefixed to Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[2] ‘Various readings’. BACK

[3] Captain William Lewis Herries (d. 1857), Deputy-Assistant Quarter-Master-General, was reported as ‘severely wounded’ at the Battle of Bayonne, 14 April 1814. He had lost a leg and been made prisoner, but survived and continued in the army until 1854, rising to be a Commissioner of the Board of Audit. BACK

[4] Cornelius Neale had dedicated his Mustapha: A Tragedy (London, 1814) to Southey ‘AS A TESTIMONY OF ADMIRATION/ FOR THE GREATEST POET OF HIS AGE’; see Southey to Cornelius Neale, 15 January 1814, Letter 2363. BACK

[5] The Royal Academy of Arts, London, founded in 1768. BACK

[6] Southey had sat for a bust in October 1813. The sculptor was James Smith (1775–1815). BACK

[7] i.e. ‘Among other honours’. BACK

[8] James Asperne (1757–1820), bookseller and proprietor of the European Magazine. A ‘Memoir of Robert Southey, Esq.’ and a portrait ‘Engraved by Blood, from an Original Drawing by Edridge, in the Possession of G.C. Bedford, Esq.’, appeared in European Magazine, 66 (July 1814), [3]–5. BACK

[9] Isaac Reed (1742–1807; DNB), Shakespeare editor, book collector and owner of the European Magazine 1782–1807. In 1792 he had tried to stop Southey’s expulsion from Westminster School by preventing his name from being revealed as the editor of the schoolboy magazine The Flagellant. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013