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

2678. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 December 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

This is the Age of Collectors, – & on my way down having plenty of leisure for idle thought, I determined to form a Collection in which I think you will take an interest in assisting me. It will be an interesting thing for to form a collection of {get together} all the reviews which have been written upon my operas, – to arrange them chronologically, & preface a blank leaf before each wherein xxxxxxx the name & date of the journal in which it appeared {may be written}, & when I can learn it the name of the author. The collection will make a curious harmony of criticisms, – & will supply good & appropriate matter for the prolegomena to my collected works, – if it should ever be your office to edite them, as in case of survivorship I trust it will. [1] 

It must be done by picking up odd numbers, which will diminish the expence, & to felicitate the search we must make out, from compleat sets when they come in our way, a list of such numbers as contain the articles we want. They may then be sought for as opportunity occurs in catalogues or in booksellers shops. But The merit of a collection consists in the difficulty of forming it, – & in this case the difficulty will be greater than you may perhaps at first imagine, many reviews having been b appeared & vanished since I became an author. Of such defunct journals the following occur to my recollection – The English Review (of which I believe Murrays father was publisher, [2]  & in which my first poems publishd with Lovells were most maliciously reviewed by Polwhele, [3]  – a fact which I learnt from D’Israeli. [4] ) the Analytical [5]  – the New Analytical [6]  which only extended to two or three numbers – the Weekly, [7]  – the Annual, [8]  the Imperial, [9]  – one of which Nicholson [10]  published but I forget the name, – the New Review, [11]  the Oxford, [12]  – & there must be others which I do not remember, or perhaps never heard of.


Herewith you have my memorial, with a blank address which you may fill up, as I know not how to do it. I have received advice that part of my books are shipped for London, & probably they have arrived by this time. The sooner therefore this application can be made the better. The duty which is such a stigma upon the Government, that it becomes me to make the application, even if they should not have the wisdom to grant it. [13] 

God bless you


8 Dec. 1815.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 8 Decr. 1815
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey published a collected edition of his poems in 1837–1838. A collected edition of his prose never appeared. Bedford did not outlive Southey, dying in 1839. BACK

[2] John Murray [formerly McMurray] (1737–1793; DNB). In January 1783 he founded the English Review. It was published monthly until 1797, when it merged with the Analytical Review. BACK

[3] The loyalist writer Richard Polwhele (1760–1838; DNB). His hostile review of Southey and Lovell’s Poems (1795) was in English Review, 25 (March-April 1795), 230–232, 389–393. BACK

[4] The writer Isaac D’Israeli (1766–1848; DNB). BACK

[5] The Analytical Review. Founded by Joseph Johnson (1738–1809; DNB) and Thomas Christie (1761–1796; DNB) in 1788, it suspended publication in December 1798 after the former’s imprisonment for seditious libel. BACK

[6] Analytical Review (New Series), which ran from January to June 1799. It does not seem to have been connected to the Analytical Review and was printed and sold by Thomas Hurst (1775–1847), later a partner in Southey’s publishers, Longmans. BACK

[7] Possibly the Weekly Political Review (1805–1811). BACK

[8] The Annual Review (1803–1808), founded and edited by Arthur Aikin. Southey had been a contributor. BACK

[9] The Imperial Review: or London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Literary Journal (1804–1805). BACK

[10] William Nicholson (1753–1815; DNB), A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts (1802–1813). BACK

[11] New Review; or Monthly Analysis of General Literature (1813). BACK

[12] Sir Richard Phillips’s short-lived venture, the Oxford Review (1807–1808). BACK

[13] A memorial to request that the import duty on the books Southey had bought on his recent travels be waived or reduced; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 December 1815, Letter 2683. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013