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

2592. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 1[–2] May 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I give you joy of your journey & I give myself joy of your return, for tho we are even now three hundred miles apart, & tho a fortnight might easily have past without any communication between us, yet the knowledge that you were not in England, made me feel that something in the system of my microcosm was changed, & as it were out of order.

During your absence I have been as usual making progress, & consuming ink & quill barrel xxxx at the regular rate. Eighteen inscriptions are now written, & Longman will probably be making up his mind at this time whether to print them in quarto, or in a smaller form. [1]  I prefer the statelier form, in which case some 20 pages of notes may be added to some fourscore of text. You shall have what are done in my next consignment to Gifford; & perhaps you can help me in the only part of the undertaking which requires help, – which is in finding out something for me about one or two persons upon whom I have to write epitaphs & of whom I find xx no memoir in my Magazines. I will make out a list at the end of this letter. Tell me from what branch of Cromwells family the Franklands are descended. [2]  Wynn no doubt can answer the question. Xx Major Nicholas [3]  (a friend of Gen. Bunbury’s) who fell at Badajoz, & who was a highly interesting character was of that stock, & my poem may be the better for his genealogy, if he comes either from Ireton, [4]  or from Richard Cromwell. [5] 

I have pleased myself well in most of these poems, & diversified them with some skill. I may praise my poems {myself} to you, as I do my beauty { xxxxxxx} to my daughter Isabel, when we agree that she is my Beauty Bell, & I am her Beauty Pappa. They are not in their nature things that can be popular, but I do not doubt that those who are capable of appreciating them, will think them good, & that they will hold a respectable place among my works hereafter. Sometimes I half resolve to say something in a proud preface respecting the Laureateship, [6]  in consequence of which these are written: but with any feelings of pride worthy pride, or indeed with any worthy feelings, the what is called the public has little sympathy. Sometimes too I think of dedicating them, but cannot determine to whom. The D of Wellington obviously occurs; – & it is as obvious that there is something like flattery in inscribing a book to whim which is all to his honour “praise & glory”. Sometimes I think of doing it in some verses to the memory of Perceval, – & this seems the favourite idea. Sometimes to the Army, & or to the British people. Perhaps it will end in no dedication at all. Sometimes I have a half mind towards Canning, – upon this point that I trust his voice will soon be heard as powerfully in behalf of another war, as just, as inevitable &c –. If you see any fitness or unfitness in any of these embryo intentions tell me. Your opinion will have, as you well know, much weight.

Ten o clock & I must go to the Senhoras to supper – Good night.

May 1. 1815. Shedaw is this day eleven years old

Tuesday evening

You being my First Lord of the Treasury & Chancellor of the Exchequer will you leave 4 £ with Rickman for Robert Lovell.

I shall not see you before the fall of the year unless you pay your devoirs to the Mountains. I have too much before me to allow of rambling, Gifford has one article in his hands & must have that upon Ld Wellington for which I am to be paid so ridiculously, [7]  – but nevertheless so conveniently to my necessities at this time. My heart meantime is in Brazil, [8]  where I am got into the most interesting part, & working away with some thing like that relish which is said to belong to forbidden fruit. That is I mean that upon the mere question of profit & loss, this is very imprudent work.

A Mr Locker who knows Croker & who was Ld Exmouths [9]  Secretary brought an introduction to me yesterday, & offered me his services, &c in London. I shall get something from him respecting our operations in Catalonia.

Thank you for the Canada paper: of which more hereafter.

Hartley is to be at Oxford on the 12th he has a post-mastership at Merton, worth not less than 50 £. upon which with 40 from his Uncles at Ottery, [10]  30 from Lady Beaumont, & 10 from his godfather Poole, & 5 from poor Cottle, it is supposed he may live f with frugality. If more be necessary, it will be forthcoming, but And to his disgrace the father, quietly reconciles himself, & talks of what he will do, – just as x a man would who could rely upon his own intentions & efforts. Hartley has luckily a cousin  [11]  at Ch Church both able & desirous to render him every good office in his power. It will be his own fault if he does not provide for himself at College, – but O cælum O terra O maria Neptuni [12]  what a fish it is!

The Moon goes on as you could wish, & makes excellent progress in Greek.

Remember me to all at home. I shall look for a letter from you tomorrow.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Postmark: [illegible]
Endorsement: May 1. & 2. 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 405–407 [in part; dated 1 May 1815]. BACK

[1] Southey’s series of Inscriptions on the Peninsular War. Southey only completed 18 Inscriptions (30 were planned) and they were not collected together until they were published in Poetical Works, 10 vols (London, 1837–1838), III, pp. 122–156. BACK

[2] The Frankland Baronets of Thirkelby. Sir Thomas Frankland, 2nd Baronet (1665–1726), married in 1683 Elizabeth Russell (d. 1733), daughter of Frances Cromwell (1638–1720), Oliver Cromwell’s (1599–1658; Lord Protector 1653–1658) youngest daughter. BACK

[3] Major William Nicholas (1785–1812; DNB), died 14 April 1812 from wounds received at the siege of Badajoz. His mother was Charlotte Frankland, daughter of Admiral Sir Thomas Frankland, 5th Baronet (1718–1784; DNB). Southey did not write an epitaph to commemorate him. BACK

[4] Henry Ireton (bap. 1611–1651; DNB), Parliamentarian general and Cromwell’s son-in-law. BACK

[5] Richard Cromwell (1626–1712; DNB), Cromwell’s third son and his successor as Lord Protector 1658–1659. BACK

[6] Southey did not write a Preface or dedication for the Inscriptions. BACK

[7] Southey was paid £100 for his review of George Elliott (dates unknown), The Life of the Most Noble Arthur Duke of Wellington, from the Period of his first Achievements in India, down to his Invasion of France, and the Peace of Paris in 1814 (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275. BACK

[8] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[9] Admiral Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth (1757–1833; DNB), commander of the British fleet in the Mediterranean 1811–1814, 1815–1817. BACK

[10] Hartley Coleridge’s paternal uncles, especially George Coleridge. BACK

[11] William Hart Coleridge had taken his MA in 1814. BACK

[12] Publius Terentius Afer (195/185–159 BC), Adelphoe (The Brothers) (160 BC), line 790: ‘O Heaven! O Earth! O sea! O Neptune!’ BACK

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August 2013