2642. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 August 1815 

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

2642. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 August 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Correct in the reviewal of Barrés Papers a printers blunder which destroys the sense. last page but one, & in the middle of the page it is you will find these words “The resemblance may be preserved;” this word ought to be presumed. [1] 

You have given me too much panegyric, & you have retained the error of supposing that Siverian suspects Roderick in the scene by the river. [2]  This is the state of Siverians mind, – till he heard Florindas exculpation of his master he had never thought of the possibility of his being alive, because he had never wished it: afterwards, the wish led him to x dream upon the possibility, – but not in any way as connected with Maccabee. [3]  – The strongest objection which has been, or can be urged against the poem is that Roderick should not be recognized – but the fact is strictly possible. A friend of mine (poor Charles Danvers) after a fortnights absence during which he had been exp very exposed to weather, sleeping out of doors, & in an open boat, & had endured the greatest anxiety (in assisting a man [4]  to escape to America who would have been hanged for high treason if he had been taken) was so altered as literally not to be recognized at the end of that time by an old servant of the family. – Think also what a difference grey hairs will make: & how soon grief will produce this change has often been seen. When the Queen of France was murdered her hair was perfectly white. [5]  This I have carefully marked in Roderick. I have also made his mother recognize him upon the first hint, & Siverian also. [6]  As for Julian, it is nowhere implied that he has ever seen Roderick; – on the contrary Africa was his home.

I wish you were here. I have set on foot a grand project: nothing less than that of rejoicing for the Battle of Waterloo [7]  & the capture of Buonaparte, [8]  by a bonfire on the top of Skiddaw upon the Princes birth day. [9]  It will be seen far into Scotland & by all the country round – like Baly’s cauldron in Kehama. [10]  By the Lord Grosvenor if you were here we would sup together as near the stars as the Olympic Gods themselves, & see how the chasms & precipices of old Skiddaw look by fire light.

Send me your journal. [11]  xxxxxxx The Docstor is about to run over to Waterloo & Brussels on his marriage, & if I can mean to go with him, one inducement being that there is a vacant place in the coach, so that my {the} mere conveyance of my corpus will cost nothing. Can you help me to some money between this & the beginning of Sept.? – I work hard in order to start for London tomorrow three weeks. Our stay xx in Flanders is limited to a month, & I shall halt two or three weeks on my return, in xxx & about town.

Lord Lyndoch [12]  is here, & I am to dine with him to day – in my new coat. Son Lunus would have liked it better he says if it had been the same colour as my jacket, – i.e the forbidden drab. [13] 

God bless you


8 Aug. 1815.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 8 August 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. 420–422. BACK

[1] Grosvenor Bedford’s Letters and Miscellaneous Papers … With a Memoir of His Life (1814) of his cousin Barré Charles Roberts; reviewed by Southey in the Quarterly Review, 12 (January 1815), 509–519 (esp. 518). BACK

[2] Bedford’s review of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 83–113 (esp. 102), referring to Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 5, lines 214–306. BACK

[3] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 17, lines 165–197. ‘Maccabee’ was the name that Roderick took after his downfall. BACK

[4] Unidentified. BACK

[5] Marie Antoinette (1755–1793; Queen of France 1774–1792). BACK

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Book 19, lines 1–24; Book 25, lines 330–333. BACK

[7] The battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815. BACK

[8] Napoleon Bonaparte had formally demanded political asylum from the British on 15 July 1815. He was imprisoned and then sent to exile on St Helena, where he died in 1821. BACK

[9] i.e. 12 August; this also happened to be Southey’s birthday. BACK

[10] The Curse of Kehama (1810), Book 17, lines 22–32. BACK

[11] Bedford’s journal of his trip to the Continent 1814–1815. BACK

[12] The army officer and leading figure in the Peninsular War, Thomas Graham, 1st Baron Lynedoch (1748–1843; DNB). BACK

[13] Southey had asked Bedford to order him a new coat from his London tailor, Hyde (first name unknown; d. 1820). Southey’s preference was for drab, but Edith had forbidden this. See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 June 1815 (Letter 2621) and [20 July 1815] (Letter 2637). BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013