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

2550. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 February 1815 ⁠* 

The Pionia [1]  is a small river which falls into the Sella, & which is now called the Bueña, – most likely not to be found in ma any general map. The Deva [2]  certainly is not, this stream must be like one of our Borrodale becks, – it falls into the x Pionia at Soto into another mountain stream called Reynazo & that into the Pionia. Xx xxx Of course it was not necessary that I should enter so minutely into the topography as to mention this. Morales to whom the note refers has given a full description of all this, for which God bless him; [3]  – & the old geography I collected from the Espana Sagrada, [4]  a work of prodigious labour, great extent & great value.

You ask me about Julians speech to Orpas – my meaning is that his look made Orpas understand what the words were intended to convey to him & none but him. – that Roderi Julian had described what sort of a Christian Orpas had been, & in using the words We Musslemen [5]  implied that the one was just such a Mussleman as the other, each knowing that the other did not believe the faith which they both professed.

Roderick looks sternly toward Siverian, without any thought of the person at whom he is looking (this is carefully observed) – His feeling is a sudden impulse of indignation that such an action should be excused which he feels, after every palliation, to be inexcusable: And as the word absolve is what rouses him, [6]  Siverian is put upon a false scent by that word, – as if the Priest were offended by it. The sternness of Roderick is a feeling toward himself. [7] 


Woe be to Jeffrey! I have now seen his reviewal of the Excursion. [8]  I have seen also his account of Mr Wilsons nonsensical Isle of Palms, – a volume made up of the grossest imitations of Wordsworth, with not a few from myself. [9]  It is well for Wilson that he happens to be intimate with Wordsworth & Lloyd; – or he would have come in & that I just know enough of him not to prevent me from giving him the very hard knock which would otherwise fall to his share. But as for Jeffrey if I do not hit him harder than Copplestone has done, [10]  – may x my right hand be palsied! – I have opened a black book on his account; – the materials are collecting, & I shall soon begin to fire away: – I would fain do it before he reviews Roderick; – the letters will not bear my signature, but they will be recognized for as mine, – & I have taken care to make my intention known in quarters where it will reach him. [11] 

I have been lately taking a heat at the History of the War. [12]  If the first chapter were finished to my mind I should wish Murray would put me upon my mettle by sending it to press.

Is it among things possible that you can take a six weeks run in France with me this autumn? You will easily conceive that I should rather visit that country before my history is published than after. My plan is to go from Brighton, & stay a day or two at Caen, & to make an Englishman who is settled there useful in directing me thereabouts. Paris will soon satisfy me. Thence I go to Tours where I shall find Landor, – down the Loire as far as Orleans, then to the south & home by way of the Rhine. Mina is the only person in France whom I shall want to see; – if he be there. [13]  But I can get letters to La Fayette, for whom I have some respect; [14]  – & if there were a French tongue in my head I would call upon Carnot. [15]  Neither my tongue, nor my ears will be of much use to me, – but I shall make good use of my eyes.

The Deus Lunus has his Catechistic book, & I suppose it will make part of his Sundays forms. [16]  I am neither orthodox enough to put it into his hands myself, nor heterodox enough to keep it out of them.

God bless you. I am glad to hear of Belisarius Narses Hodge, of whom honourable mention will be made in The Book of Dr Daniel Dove & his Horse Nobs. [17]  Remember me at home –


8th Feby. 1815

I could help you to plenty of faults in Roderick, – but as I do not give my censures that are credit for judgement enough to find out the blots, it is better as well not to point them out. Scott will most likely figure in the next number, [18]  so that if you were ready, you would hardly obtain insertion. – I hope my article upon Lewis & Clark will be in, [19]  – for a very material reason which you may easily guess.

Remember me to Elmsley, & ask him if Admiral Hallowell has any thing which could help me in my history besides what will appear in the printed trial? – I mean relative to any other operations in Catalonia. [20] 


* Address: To / G. C. Bedford Esqre / Exchequer / Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / 11 FE 11/ 1815
Endorsement: 8 February 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A river mentioned frequently in Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), for example Book 13, line 241. BACK

[2] A stream mentioned frequently in Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), for example Book 16, line 59. BACK

[3] The geography is important to the poem because it describes the Vale of Covadonga, site of the battle in 722 against the Moors, which concludes the poem. The note to Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 16, line 159 refers to Ambrosio de Morales (1513–1591), Los Cinco Libros Postreros de la Coronica General de Espana, que Continuava Ambrosio de Morales (Cordoba, 1586), Book 13, ff. 3r-5r. Southey possessed an edition of the Coronica from 1791–1793, no. 3557 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[4] Enrique Florez (1702–1773) and Manuel Risco (1735–1801), Espana Sagrada, Teatro-Geografico Historico de la Iglesia de Espana, 45 volumes (1754–1801), no. 3468 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 20, line 223. BACK

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 17, line 114. BACK

[7] The opening of the letter provides information requested by Grosvenor Bedford for his forthcoming review of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814); published in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 83–113. BACK

[8] For Jeffrey’s review of Wordsworth’s The Excursion (1814), see Edinburgh Review, 24 (November 1814), [1]-30. It began: ‘This will never do’ ([1]). BACK

[9] John Wilson, The Isle of Palms and Other Poems (1812). The article in the Edinburgh Review, 19 (February 1812), 373–388, began: ‘This is a new recruit to the company of lake poets; – and one who, from his present bearing, promises, we think, not only to do them good service, and to rise to high honours in the corps; but to raise its name, and advance its interests even among the tribes of the unbelievers. Though he wears openly the badge of their peculiarities, and professes the most humble devotion to their great captain, Mr. Wordsworth, we think he has kept clear of several of the faults that may be imputed to his preceptors; and assumed, upon the whole, a more attractive and conciliating air, than the leaders he has chosen to follow’ (373). BACK

[10] Copleston had engaged in a public feud with the Edinburgh Review. His A Reply to the Calumnies of the Edinburgh Review against Oxford (Oxford, 1810) reacted to an attack on ‘classical learning as currently taught in England’, Edinburgh Review, 15 (October 1809), 40–53. Copleston noted in response that no one would ‘apply to the Edinburgh Review for information about the Classics’ (Reply, p. 118). For the reviewers’ reaction; see Edinburgh Review, 16 (April 1810), 158–187. Copleston followed up with A Second Reply to the Edinburgh Review (1810) and A Third Reply to the Edinburgh Review (1811). See also Southey to Richard Heber, 9 April 1811, Letter 1900. BACK

[11] Southey did not write his proposed articles. BACK

[12] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[13] The Spanish guerrilla leader Francisco Espoz de Mina (1781–1836). He had led an unsuccessful rising against the absolutist royal government at Pamplona on 25–26 September 1814 and fled into exile. He did not return until the Revolution of 1820. BACK

[14] The French politician and solider Marie-Paul-Joseph-Roch-Gilbert Motier, Marquis de La Fayette (1757–1834), celebrated figure in the American Revolution and the early years of the French Revolution. Southey had admired him since he was a schoolboy. BACK

[15] Lazare Nicolas Marguerite, Comte Carnot (1753–1823), member of the Committee of Public Safety 1793–1794, Director 1795–1797, Minister of War 1800. An old Jacobin, for whom Southey retained some admiration. BACK

[16] i.e. the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer (1662). BACK

[17] i.e Southey’s novel The Doctor (1834–1847). Nobs appeared there, but not Belisarius Narses Hodge. BACK

[18] Southey was mistaken. George Ellis’s review of Scott’s The Lord of the Isles (1815) appeared in the next but one issue, Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 287–309. BACK

[19] Meriweather Lewis (1774–1809) and William Clark (1770–1838), Travels to the Source of the Missouri River, and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean (1814), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 12 (January 1815), 317–368. BACK

[20] Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell (1760–1834; DNB) had landed a British army at Tarragona on 2 June 1813, in order to besiege the town. But Lieutenant-General Sir John Murray (c. 1768–1827; DNB) ordered a hurried retreat and re-embarked his troops on 11–12 June 1813, fearing the approach of a French army. His actions led to a court martial in January 1815, which only admonished him for abandoning his guns. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013