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

2569. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 10 March 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I have received the half notes [1]  & thank you for them. Do you in repayment receive from Gifford what he would else remit me for the next number, [2]  & make me debtor or creditor for the balance which will not be above twenty shillings either way.

Your criticism is perfectly just in three points. [3]  Ennobled & upraisd is saying too much. this I will alter when I can. The two lines

That, as few parents boast a child like him
So scarce like Barre ever hath a son –

are mended by striking out the more prosaic one in the manner which you perceive. Your third objection on the score of delicacy I myself felt not in writing the poem because then I thought only of the poem & not of that Mr R. was to read it, – but afterwards, – & as you have seen I xxxx altered it little for the better; Perhaps if you substitute indulgent for unhappy the fault is got rid of, – but not there is a botch in its place – so this stands over for consideration.

I do not assent to your other remarks. the poem is an Inscription written in the blank leaf of “Letters &c –” – therefore not too long for its place & purpose. The diction is what in my mind it ought to be. I would willingly get rid of the word cold in the first line, but of nothing else in the first three lines. And you who have the original manuscript of Roderick [4]  at this time in your hands may see with what habitual care & frequent erasures I write verse. – I will send it you as soon as I can make the intended alterations.

I have written to Wynn. [5]  The truth is that I have so many letters of business, other peoples as well as my own, that I can find cannot find time to write oftener than once in two or three months to any of my friends except you, – & you know how many of our letters have the provocation of business – I heartily wish you may succeed with Vansittart, [6]  – but these poor creatures have neither heads nor hearts.

A pretty mess they have made with the Corn Bill! [7]  It is very well that the rest of Europe will be in a state to go to whenever we have a Revolution at home, – for thitherward are we tending. The end of a manufacturing system like ours, unmitigated as it is, must be either that or a Bellum Servile, [8]  where there is so little foresight, so little courage, so little wisdom to counteract it.

Dr Bell has just sent his god daughter a very compleat microscope, which can tho it cannot amuse her at present amuses her father

God bless you

RS.

10 March 1815.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 13 MR 13/ 1815
Endorsement: 10 March 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] i.e. half-banknotes – a secure way of sending money in the post, by tearing banknotes in half and sending the two halves separately. BACK

[2] i.e. the next issue of the Quarterly Review. BACK

[3] Bedford had sent a critique of Southey’s inscription, ‘Written in the Volume of Letters & Miscellaneous papers by Barrè Charles Roberts’, Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 3 March 1815, Letter 2564. The poem was not published until it appeared as ‘Written in an unpublished Volume of Letters, and Miscellaneous Papers, by Barré Charles Roberts’, Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 157–159, where it is mis-dated ‘Keswick, 1814’. BACK

[4] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). The MS is now Beinecke Library, Yale University, Gen. MS 298. BACK

[5] See Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 9 March 1815, Letter 2568. BACK

[6] Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley (1766–1851; DNB), Chancellor of the Exchequer 1812–1823. BACK

[7] The Government had introduced its proposal for a sliding scale of duties on imported corn on 1 March 1815. The Bill passed on 23 March 1815, despite much urban opposition. BACK

[8] A ‘slave war’. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013