2445. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 June 1814

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2445. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 June 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick June 18. 1814.

In Elizabeths [1]  days the Portugueze were almost always called the Portugals. [2] 

Their trust in their good cause, not his, for either might be used after each, & his trust hisseth most wickedly.

You may expunge the four lines ‘Where shallow counsellors’.

Suppose you read

Feeble of heart & dim of eye
The factions raisd their voice,
or
The feeble-minded rais’d their xl factious cry. [3] 
utrum horum mavis. [4] 

Give all the boys a holyday my dear Grosvenor against the world. Do you not know that the very excellence of burlesque consists in taking things good in themselves & putting them in a ridiculous situation? – or tacking on a ridiculous conclusion. Tom Thumb is very good, but the boys must have a holyday notwithstanding. As for anvil & loom they are words & images in which all poets have delighted. [5] 

I sent you a good insertion for the description of Mr Whitbreads Peace. [6] 

There is no harm in the repetition of the word ring, as there are at least twenty intervening lines, & the word also is used with a different shade of meaning. [7] 

There is little to chuse between nation & people, [8]  – only look that you do not chuse one which may occur <again> too near. This I cannot ascertain, having no other text to refer to than the turpissimum exemplar princeps, [9]  as existing in the Green Book, which by the by was opened with these odes.

Pope [10]  used to reserve any thing which might have brought him in danger of the law for a second edition. I do not like to speak of Bellingham [11]  without at the same time compassionating & criminating him. On a jury I should without hesitation have considered his madness as not in the slightest degree exempting him from the consequences of murder: yet surely he was a great & noble spirit overthrown. Suppose I imitate Pope here say for the present

Thou whom a maniac’s guilty act

Sent & –––  [12] & reserve the original reading for a future time. [13]  I must however protest that nothing like an intention to palliate exists <in> or can be inferred from the passage. It is expressly called a guilty act. Say to any body who may notice the omission of Pitts [14]  name, that I think Perceval was a very good minister, & Pitt a very bad one

_____

You may arrange arm & will as you please, – only let mind be in the middle, & then there is a reason for either way. [15] 

I have no motto & the title specifying the three beödeds persons will be very ugly – but it cannot be helped

Odes to the P Reg. the Emp. Alex. & the K of P. by RS. PL.

______

I forgot Elmsley in Longmans list of donative copies, – do you mention this to the Row: & Wynn also I now see is not the list. Pray remedy this.

Croker will have four copies sent him, to use his discretion concerning presentation. There can however be no reason why the Prince should see them before they are published, – he might take it in his head to desire me to rhyme them, – or favour me with some other criticism which might be very flattering & exceedingly troublesome.

The Magrot is right respecting famous applied to a man like Peter. [16]  In such cases a word recovers its sterling value, – at <to> whatever depreciation it may have fallen in current use.

This will reach you on Tuesday. Tomorrow I may have your comments on the third ode, my reply will be by return of post, Pople therefore may have the last proof returned to him on Wednesday, & there will be nothing to prevent its publication by the end of the week. It would be silly to come out with such things after the Raree-folk [17]  are gone. As for the things themselves I expect from them little <immediate> credit & no profit: yet like them well enough to be glad that they are not x are written. They are sui generis, or mei generis  [18]  – which you please. My name may be carried by them to St Petersburgh & Berlin, & perhaps if the beöded hear them praised in England, they may cause them to be translated, & then I might have a chance of seeing how my name would look in Russian characters.

Mr Raymond [19]  shall receive all due hospitalities. You & the Magrot also may be assured that if you send a dog to Keswick with a ticket, tied to his tale saying who sent him, he shall dine in the parlour, & after dinner walk up to the hearth rug in the study.

I inclose your letter to Wynn, & shall request him to send it to the Xchequer: In case he should not be returned to town, my answer to all your criticisms is so explicit, that you will probably not be embarrassed for want of the original to refer to.

And so God bless you, I am making way in the 21 book, [20]  much to my content.

These Odes have put me in the vein & I could throw off some others of the same kind with a hearty good will, – to Joseph Buonaparte – the Emperor of Elba! – the King of France, – the Prince of Brazil & that beast Ferdinand. [21]  But I already given more time to poetry this year than I can afford. Reviewing pays ten guineas a sheet – & odes not ten shillings.

God bless you

RS.

Lord William Gordon [22]  has just told me that the Raree Men do not return from Portsmouth. Of course you will know this, & I suppose will get the Odes out without waiting for these corrections. N’importe. [23] 


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 21 JU 21/ 1814
Endorsement: 18 June 1814./ recd. 21 June
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Elizabeth I (1533–1603; Queen of England 1558–1603; DNB). BACK

[2] See ‘Ode to His Majesty, Frederick William the Fourth, King of Prussia’, IX; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 30. The letter deals with corrections to the odes. BACK

[3] These corrections were not incorporated into the published poem; see ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, II; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 5. BACK

[4] ‘I take whichever you prefer’. BACK

[5] ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, III; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 8. BACK

[6] The section in ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, II; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 8, reads: ‘Not as base faction would have brought her [Peace] home,/ Her countenance for shame abased,/ In servile weeds, array’d,/ Fear, Sorrow and Repentance following close.’ This was a reference to the Whig Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB) and his desire for peace with France. BACK

[7] ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, III; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), pp. 7–8. BACK

[8] ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, III; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 9. BACK

[9] ‘messiest first copy’. The ‘Green Book’ was a note-book that Bedford had ordered for Southey in London. This is now manuscript HM 2733 in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. BACK

[10] Alexander Pope (1688–1744; DNB). BACK

[11] John Bellingham (c. 1769–1812; DNB), the assassin of Spencer Perceval. BACK

[12] ‘Thou whom …’ was a common formulation in Pope’s poetry. BACK

[13] As published the lines on Bellingham in ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, VI; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 12, described his conduct as: ‘the guilty act/ Of a great spirit overthrown’. BACK

[14] William Pitt (1759–1806; Prime Minister 1783–1801, 1804–1806; DNB). BACK

[15] ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, V; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 11. BACK

[16] Peter I, the Great (1672–1725), Tsar of Russia 1682–1725 and great-great-grandfather of Alexander I. See ‘Ode to His Imperial Majesty, Alexander the First, Emperor of All the Russias’, II; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 14: ‘Thy famous ancestor,/ Illustrious Peter came’. BACK

[17] i.e. the visiting rulers. After attending a naval review at Portsmouth on 22 June, they travelled cross-country to Dover and left for the Continent on 27 June 1814. BACK

[18] ‘Of their own kind, or of my kind’. BACK

[19] Unidentified. BACK

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

[21] Southey did not write odes to: Joseph (1768–1844; King of Naples 1806–1808, King of Spain 1808–1813) and Napoleon (1769–1821) Bonaparte; Louis XVIII (1755–1824; King of France 1814–1824); John VI (1767–1826; Prince Regent of Portugal 1799–1816, King of Portugal 1816–1826); Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). BACK

[22] Lord William Gordon (1744–1823), son of Cosmo George Gordon, 3rd Duke of Gordon (1720–1752). He owned the Waterend estate on the west side of Derwentwater. BACK

[23] Lord William Gordon … N’importe: written in left hand margin of fol 1 r. ‘It is of no importance’. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)