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

2494. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 30 October 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick. 30 Oct 1814

My dear Grosvenor

Because there are not demands enough upon my poor Ways & Means I have received this evening a demand of £7. for Absent Commons at Grays Inn to end of Trinity 1814. With an NB. saying “Mr Southeys address not being known until now, is the reason he hath not been applied to before for his Ab. Coms.” – As my address might at any time have been as easily discovered as at the present, this is a very insufficient reason for suffering an account to accumulate against me for fourteen years. It is however well that it amounts to no heavier a sum. Call for me I pray you at the Stewards Office, & secure me against any future demands, when you discharge this, by seeing my name expunged from their books. To complain is of no use; & it would be of as little to regret the loss of what I can very ill afford. [1] 

I have suffered much anxiety since you heard from me. Isabel has had a dangerous illness, – so dangerous indeed that in my own mind I had given her up. Thank God she has recovered, stren & is gaining strength rapidly, tho not so rapidly as she lost it.

I am finishing an article for Gifford, which in consequence of many interruptions & lastly of this illness, has been much delayed [2]  – tomorrow however will compleat it, & I must work hard for his next number, or else I shall be behind the lighter as the phrase is: it will require two tolerably long articles to make the Constable come up with me. [3]  You know what makes the mare to go, according to the old proverb; – alas both my Pegasus & my xxxx road-horse have but too often been set going by the same impelling cause. [4] 

If you review Roderick you may like to notice such poems as are allude to the subject. [5]  The best known is that Ode of Luis de Leon, not very well translated by me in my Letters from Sp. & P. [6]  & not much better by poor Russells, – the best most promising poet of his generation Fosbrooke (a man of considerable powers) has an ode upon the same subject appended, oddly enough, to his British Monachism. [7]  These I believe are all that are likely to be known in England. In the last edition of my Letters is a monodrama written before about 14 years ago, in which the traditionary account of Florindas death was followed. [8] 

I am reprinting the my Poems & Metrical Tales with the pieces in the Register, & one or two others, – arranged in three volumes & with corrected as much as they are capable of being corrected, without bestowing upon many of them more pain than they are worth. [9] 

How am I to learn whether an Ode is required from me upon the New Year? or may I take it for granted that it is not, as the ceremony of performing it was dropt upon the last occasion? [10] 

Here is space for some political speculation, & I coul could find speculation enough for the space, – of no very exhilarating character. But I must break off & go doggedly to work upon the reviewal.

So God bless you my dear Grosvenor

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 2 NO 2/ 1814
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had enrolled at Gray’s Inn on 7 February 1797, intending to qualify as a lawyer. However, he had abandoned his legal studies on his return from Portugal in 1801. Presumably, he had forgotten to inform Gray’s Inn. BACK

[2] Southey’s article on Alexander Chalmers (1759–1834; DNB), The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper (1810), Quarterly Review, 11 (July 1814), 480–504; and Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 60–90. BACK

[3] To ‘outrun the Constable’ was an old phrase signifying getting into debt. Southey jokes that he needs to at least break even, by being level with the Constable. BACK

[4] i.e. ‘Money’, which ‘makes the mare to go’. BACK

[5] Bedford’s review of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) appeared in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 83–113. BACK

[6] Southey’s translation of Luis de Leon’s (1527–1591) ode ‘Folgara el Rey Rodrigo’ appeared in his Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol, 1797), pp. 292–301. BACK

[7] Two poems that dealt with the same subject as Southey’s Roderick: Thomas Russell’s (bap. 1762, d. 1788; DNB) imitation of Luis de Leon’s ode, Sonnets and Miscellaneous Poems by the Late Thomas Russell, Fellow of New College (Oxford, 1789), pp. 30–39; and Thomas Dudley Fosbroke (1770–1842; DNB), ‘The triumphs of Vengeance; or The Count of Julian, an Ode. In the manner of Gray’, British Monachism, or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (London, 1802), pp. 237–243; Southey’s copy of Fosbroke’s book was no. 1056 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[8] Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, 3rd edn (London, 1808), 100–103; the traditional account was that Florinda committed suicide in shame at her father’s betrayal of their country to the Moors. Southey’s poem was first published in The Iris, 21 July 1804. BACK

[9] Minor Poems (1815) included shorter works previously published in Southey’s 1795, 1797 and 1799 collections, Metrical Tales (1805), and the following from the Edinburgh Annual Register: ‘The Alderman’s Funeral’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), II, pp. 204–213, first published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.2 (1810), i-iv; ‘King Ramiro’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), III, pp. 138–147, first published in Morning Post, 9 September 1803, re-published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.2 (1810), v-ix; ‘Queen Orraca and the Five Martyrs of Morocco’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), III, pp. 181–192, first published in Morning Post, 1 September 1803 as ‘Queen Urraca, And The Five Martyrs of Morocco’, re-published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.2 (1810), ix-xiii; ‘Verses Spoken in the Theatre at Oxford, on the Installation of Lord Grenville’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), I, pp. 57–62, first published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.2 (1811), 641–643; ‘Garci Ferrandez’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), III, pp. 128–137, first published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.2 (1811), 637–641; ‘The Inch Cape Rock’, Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), III, pp. 148–152, first published Morning Post, 19 October 1803, re-published in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), lxxiv-lxxvi. BACK

[10] Southey’s hope that the traditional Poet Laureate task of writing a New Year’s ode had been discontinued was misplaced. Much to his chagrin, he was required to produce a poem, which became ‘Ode, Written in December 1814’. It was thought unsuitable by the authorities, and was not published until Southey’s Minor Poems, 3 vols (London, 1815), II, pp. 227–238. It was retitled ‘Ode, Written During the War with America, 1814’ in Southey’s Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, 221–228. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013