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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1020. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 January 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

Let Hyems [1]  when he goes to Queen Hithe  [2]  again (& if I thought Hyems never went there I would go live there myself.) – copy from Clarke’s edition of Falconers Shipwreck P xxiii. The Midshipman, beginning ‘Deep in that Fabric’ & on to the end to be the specimen of Falconer. [3]  The book will certainly be there as being the most beautiful edition I ever saw of any work whatsoever. And do you yourself add to our list Captain Thomson who died in 1786. In the Naval Chronicle Vol 6 p. 237 & Vol 7.93 you will see what he wrote & where to find the specimens – of which The Top sails shiver in the Wind should be one. [4]  Say of him what you will, only let this make a part of what you say, that ‘having very immorally abused his talents, he made some atonement by editing the works of that true Englishman Andrew Marvell.’ [5]  You will see in the Biog. Dramatica that he boasted of writing obscenely. [6] 

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Now Grosvenor I have something of a very different character to say. I am very desirous of getting a civil appointment in the expedition to Portugal, & am trying for it in all directions. You know some of General Moores relations, [7]  & it might very possibly be of some use if you could get my name mentioned to him, – that is that he should know what I wish, & why I wish it for he is one of those men with whom my object would be likely to have some weight & my knowledge of the country & the people constitutes a certain fitness which is not to be found in every body. – If you have no objection to do this for me – do it soon, for time is precious, & it is to me a very material thing. I should be enabled to {do} all I wish & accumulate a few hundreds besides, which would settle me comfortably on my return.

My brother Tom would have been in the action – had he not been under arrest. he has been tried by a Court Martial – found guilty of contempt towards his Captain [8]  – dismissed the ship – & appointed First Lieutenant to a finer frigate by the Commodore in consequence so that he is the fair way to promotion – if he escapes the yellow fever, which is raging dreadfully on board the Amelia. [9]  He wishes me when I visit London to see the minutes of his trials – having gained some credit for his defence.

God bless you

RS.

What news of Horace – if he be successful he will be Horatius Cocles – quasi Cockle-shell shewer. [10] 


Notes

* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E / JAN18/ 1805
Endorsement: 15 Jany 1805; [in another hand] Wrote to J Moore Jany. 22.
MS: Bodleian Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A Latin soubriquet of John Winter (dates unknown), a printer who frequently worked on books published by Longman. BACK

[2] The place of residence of Thomas Hill, book collector and editor. BACK

[3] Southey reviewed James Stanier Clarke’s (1766–1834; DNB) 1804 edition of the poem The Shipwreck (1762) by William Falconer (1732–1769) in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 577–580. Here, he wishes Bedford to derive from it the passage from Falconer to be included in their anthology Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols, (London, 1807). The selections appeared in vol. II, pp. 397–400. BACK

[4] Captain Edward Thompson (1738–1786; DNB), naval officer and author of satires including The Demi-Rep (1756) and The Meretriciad (1763). His career was featured in the new magazine The Naval Chronicle (founded 1799): Southey’s citation is correct, with volume 6 appearing in 1801 and volume 7 in 1802. Thompson authored sea songs including ‘The topsails shiver in the wind’. Selections from his poems appeared in the Specimens of the Later English Poets, II, pp. 407–412, but this one was not included. BACK

[5] Thompson’s edition of the writings of fellow Hull poet Andrew Marvell (1621–1678; DNB), The Works of Andrew Marvell ... Containing Many Original Letters, Poems and Tracts, Never Before Printed, with a ... Life of the Author by Capt. E. Thompson, was published in 1776. The sentence suggested by Southey did not appear in Thompson’s biography. BACK

[6] Thompson’s boast was: ‘I am the bard (the Naso of my time)/ Born on the Humber, famed for luscious rhime’, in Biographia Dramatica or, a Companion to the Playhouse, edited by Isaac Reed (1742–1807; DNB), 2 vols (London, 1782), I, p. 445. BACK

[7] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command ofthe British troops in the Iberian peninsula. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna. In December 1804 he was sent to review the practicability of defending Portugal from a French invasion. His favourable report was widely leaked to the press, e.g. Aberdeen Journal, 9 January 1805. Moore was part of a large and well-known family that included his younger brothers, Dr James Moore (1763–1860; DNB) and the Royal Navy officer Graham Moore (1764–1843; DNB). BACK

[8] Captain (later Admiral) Henry Heathcote (1777–1851), in command of HMS Galatea 1803–1805. BACK

[9] On 14 August 1804, the boats of Thomas Southey’s ship HMS Galatea made an unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French privateer General Ernouf (formerly the British sloop of war Lilly) lying at the Saintes near Guadeloupe. Of the 90 men sent on the mission 65 were killed or wounded. Southey had suspected that his brother was among the dead, having read in the newspapers that the first lieutenant had been killed. Thomas had been placed under arrest and his replacement on the raid, Lieutenant Charles Hayman (dates unknown), died. After the court martial, Thomas was made lieutenant of HMS Amelia, a finer ship than the Galatea, because she was a 38-gun Hébé-class frigate of the French navy captured in 1796 and then commissioned into the navy. BACK

[10] A pun: the one-eyed Publius Horatius Cocles (6th century BC) was the Roman hero who, in c. 505/6 BC, prevented an Etruscan army pursuing the fleeing Romans over a bridge, by defending it until it was destroyed behind him. Horace Bedford was to be in charge of the Museum’s collection of shells. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013