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

2626. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 30 June 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Barrow has put it into the Bibliopoles head to make me take up Wellingtons story from the point which I hurry it over, (after the battle of Vittoria [1] ) – & so carry it on for the next number down to the expected consummation. [2]  And for this I am to have the same goodly guerdon as for the former part. This is like the turn of the tide to an oyster left in a hot day something above low water mark. I tell you of it for sundry reasons, – one of which is that I tell you every thing.

N.B. I took what I call a humming dose of magnesia this morning, – humming I call such doses, & for why? – Because they hum all the way thro. [3] 

Why have you not sent me your journal? [4]  From it, & from your sharpened recollections I may perhaps get some notions of the ground, – at least of the sort of scene: – & certes of the previous state of Brussels.

Collect for me all the anecdotes you can of the battle. [5]  What a battle it has been! Think Grosvenor what an expenditure of morbleus & parbleus & ventrebleus & sacrebleus [6]  there must {have} been not only in the army, but wherever the in the precious city of Paris, & all over France wherever the news travelled; – how eyebrows & shoulders must have risen, & chins as well as stocks have fallen! For many how many years did I wish that Wellington might once fairly meet this Buonaparte in the field, – at a time when the very thought would have cost Whitbread & Lord Grey & the Scotchmen a pair of breeches. [7]  that is supposing the said Scotchmen were not sitting t without them at the time for the sake of oeconomy.

I have not yet seen the Review. Murray says the Egyptian paper [8]  is generally liked the best of the two [9]  – as I thought it would. The fact does not agree very well with his scale of prices; [10]  – but he does not appear dissatisfied, & has no reason to be so.

Be you my true & faithful jackal & purvey for me upon this occasion. This must be much flying matter to my purpose.

& so God bless you

RS.

30 June 1815


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 3 JY 3/ 1815
Endorsement: 30 June 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. 416–417. BACK

[1] The allied defeat of the French at Vittoria, 21 June 1813. It paved the way for eventual victory in the Peninsular war. BACK

[2] Southey had already published an article on Wellington in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275. Murray, who had failed to persuade Southey to write a biography of the Duke, had now commissioned a second article instead. Southey’s review of Eustache-Auguste Carel (1788–1836), Précis Historique de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1808 à 1814 (1815); Jean Sarrazin (1770–1848), Histoire de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1807 à 1814 (1814); General View of the Political State of France, and of the Government of Louis XVIII (1815); An Answer to the Calumniators of Louis XVIII (1815); Official Accounts of the Battle of Waterloo (1815); Lieutenant-General W. A. Scott (dates unknown), An Authentic Narrative of the Late Sanguinary Battle on the Plains of Waterloo (1815), appeared in Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–52. BACK

[3] Magnesium salts were used as a laxative. BACK

[4] Bedford’s journal of his time in Europe in 1814–1815. BACK

[5] The Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815. BACK

[6] A series of oaths, attributed by Southey to the forces of Bonaparte in his ‘March to Moscow’, Courier, 23 June 1814. BACK

[7] The Whig politicians Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB) and Charles, 2nd Earl Grey; ‘the Scotchmen’ are probably the Whiggish Edinburgh Review and its writers. BACK

[8] Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55. BACK

[9] 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

[10] i.e. Southey had been paid more (£100) for the less popular article on Elliott’s book. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013