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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1100. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 2 September 1805] ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

Of the list which you have sent me you will find not less than ten names ready done, [1]  & unless you have lost the biographical semi-quartains [2]  on which the references to Andersons collection will be found. [3]  – What have you done with the specimens of Norris [4]  from whom I marked out many pieces at Hills & thought them at the time among the best in the collection.

To particularize all the damned & damning blunders on these last sheets would fret you as well as myself. I see but one remedy. Can you not by help of Herries frank me the proofs till Rickman is in town? then give them to him. remember not to inclose them or they will be over weight. they may be so folded as to leave ample space for a direction & when no franks are to be got send them without it, for indeed the blunders are intolerable, & the delay will be of little consequence.

You will receive the specimen of Mrs Cockburne [5]  very shortly Ozell may be skipt [6]  – as perhaps he never did any thing but translate. not so Lewis Theobald. [7]  He wrote Operas from which a song or two might be got. I add these titles – Pan & Syrinx – Decius & Paulina. Apollo & Daphne or the Burgomaster tricked. [8]  He wrote also the Cave of Poverty in imitation of Shakespeare [9]  – I have read extracts from it in the ninth Volume of the Spectator, [10]  – & it may be reason enough to prefer an extract from this to say that it is praised in that work. By the by I much wish to read the Double Falshood. the very few lines I ever saw are too much like Shakespeare to have been written by Theobald, or by any man of his generation. [11] 

It is you who must calculate, for you have the list of names. I will look about in Scotland.

I am sorry Isaac Reed is sick of old age – for he is a valuable man. do not forget to get at the European Magazines thro him, – for it is a rare stroke of policy. [12]  John S. reads nothing else & praise there would be perhaps really worth its weight not merely in gold but in bank notes. [13]  Say something too if you can about what is to be expected from my Hist. of Portugal. [14] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ SEP 2/ 1805
Endorsements: Recd 3d Septr 1805
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey is advising Bedford on the collection and transcription of texts for inclusion in their jointly edited publication, Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[2] Southey inserts a note at the end of the first paragraph: ‘If they be lost let me know that I may supply the deficiency for from A. Hill [Aaron Hill (1685–1750; DNB), writer and entrepreneur, whose poetry appears in Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (1807), II, pp. 141–153] in particular I had made a good & copious choice.’ BACK

[3] Robert Anderson (1749–1830; DNB), The Works of the British Poets (1792–1795), which included biographical and critical articles. The work consisted originally of thirteen volumes, to which a fourteenth was added in 1807. BACK

[4] John Norris (1657–1712; DNB), Church of England clergyman and philosopher. In 1687 he published A Collection of Miscellanies which included almost all of the poetry he wrote. There is no entry for Norris in the Specimens. BACK

[5] Catherine Cockburn (nee Trotter) (1679–1749), dramatist, philosopher and poet. Her poetry is included in the Specimens, II, pp. 119–123. BACK

[6] John Ozell (d. 1743), translator of French writings into English, is not included in the Specimens. BACK

[7] Lewis Theobald (bap. 1688, d. 1744; DNB), literary editor (particularly of Shakespeare) and writer, who features in the Specimens, II, pp. 15–20. BACK

[8] None of these ‘songs’ appear in Theobald’s entry, but the ‘Prologue’ from the Persian Princess, or, The Royal Villain (1715) is included in Specimens, II, pp. 15–16. BACK

[9] Extracts from The Cave of Poverty, a Poem: Written in Imitation of Shakespeare (1715) are included in the Specimens, II, pp. 17–20. BACK

[10] A daily publication during the years 1711–1714, The Spectator was edited by Joseph Addison (1672–1719; DNB) and Richard Steele (1672–1729; DNB). The Cave of Poverty is discussed in volume 9 (1715) in the numbers for 25 March (658: pp. 108–112) and 1 April (660: pp. 117–23). BACK

[11] The play Double Falshood, or, The Distrest Lovers (1728) was supposed to have been based on manuscripts written by Shakespeare and Fletcher (1579–1625; DNB). Though it is now considered to be based on a lost script by these playwrights, Theobald’s enemies had suggested it was a forgery. BACK

[12] Isaac Reed (1742–1807; DNB), literary editor and book collector. As well as writing for the European Magazine, he was its proprietor and editor (1782–1807). BACK

[13] Southey was hoping to benefit from the will of his uncle John Southey. BACK

[14] Southey’s ‘History of Portugal’ was never completed. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013