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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1104. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 September 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

Norris of Bemerton is the man I mean. [1]  Did you not understand that those authors whose the time of whose death was not known, were to be inserted according to the date of their publications? to class them at the end as you seem to talk of would be absurd. It will be very easy to insert Norris & any others who may have been omitted, in their right place, by only paging such insertions with an * to mark the duplication. As for the Anonymous we had better altogether omit them – there are none of any xxx notoriety before the political or personal satires of the present reign, therefore better left alone.

Better say nothing of Pope – if you do not like George the Seconds [2]  opinion of him. I must needs speak of him in the Preface, & it would be a bad job if you & I were to contradict one another. [3] 

I have shot my bolt in the Courier – most likely to no purpose. once in a paragraph immediately following the large letter once in large letter by itself.  [4]  If I were in town it might answer to keep it up by squibs & allusions, & to open in other papers to which it would not be difficult to get access – At this distance I can do nothing more. I have stated the grievance fairly, & called upon Lord Barham [5]  to do justice to the navy. As he takes it up or neglects it, it will be a handle for his friends & his enemies.

John S’s property has not been over-rated to you, but you must not touch upon the godly string. he is a strong-headed long-headed man, whose perversities might easily be explained & whose character – imperfectly as I know his person – I so well understand that if ever I wrote my own history it would form an interesting specimen of moral anatomy. The only way to influence him is to represent me as standing high in the general opinion, – as a man already honourably distinguished – & likely to be more so. Nothing therefore of religion or of politics – but something about the name as one to be ranked high & remembered. This is the only stratagem or means of any kind I ever took to get at him, & it is not a bad one. [6]  He takes the European Magazine, whether he reads it or not heaven knows – but he probably reads nothing else. I know Isaacus has a hold upon that work. [7]  That levite will not allow you more than a page – probably not so much. that matters not – the thing is only aimed at him & of no sort of earthly consequence anywhere else – except that a good old Lady at Lisbon [8]  who takes it also will go up with a smile of excellent good will to show my fame to my Uncle there – Mention my Portugueze history. [9] 

Do not curtail the specimens of Aaron Hill [10]  – they have all something remarkable – he was an extraordinary man, full of resources, & of the most excellent & unblemished nature.

With respect to Biggs, I cannot but suspect that his men correct xxx after you very x carelessly. Let him send you two proofs of each sheet, – keep one as a check upon them. they will in that case be sure to correct all the blunders which you have xxxx marked.

You love the Society for the Suppression of Vice. amuse yourself therefore by seeing how I have clapper-clawed them in the last Annual. [11] 

God bless you

RS.

Wednesday. Thursday. Sept 5. 1805


Notes

* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ SEP 9/ 1805
Endorsement: 5 Sept 1805
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey is instructing Bedford on entries to include within their joint project, Specimens of the Later English Poets, published with Longman in 1807 as a companion to George Ellis, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790, 2nd edn 1801, 3rd edn 1803). He had asked Bedford about ‘Norris of Bemerton’ in an earlier letter; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 July 1805, Letter 1086. John Norris (1657–1712; DNB) was a Church of England clergyman and philosopher who published A Collection of Miscellanies (1687) which included almost all the poetry he wrote. There is no entry for Norris in the Specimens of the Later English Poets. BACK

[2] George II (1683–1760; King of Great Britain and Ireland 1714–1760; DNB), who after reading the Dunciad (1729), is said to have ‘pronounced Mr Pope “a very honest Man”, by this time a well-known term for a Jacobite’ (DNB). BACK

[3] There is no ‘preliminary notice’ introducing the selections from the poetry of Alexander Pope (1688–1744) included in the Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (1807), II, pp. 10–14. Pope is, however, mentioned in Southey’s ‘Preface’, I, pp. xxix–xxxi. BACK

[4] In December 1804, the naval ship HMS Amelia, of which Tom Southey was a lieutenant, had captured the Spanish brig Isabella and the ship Conception, both laden with wine and brandy, and the ship Commerce, laden with cotton. It was customary for naval officers to be allotted a share of the value of ships and cargo captured in armed conflict, but the prize money was contested because the ships were captured before war was officially declared. Southey took up his brother’s cause to have his share reinstated in The Courier which published a paragraph supporting the sailors’ claim to the prize-money on Saturday 24 August 1805. This was followed by a longer defence of their position in The Courier on 31 August 1805 under the title ‘Indemnification to the Spanish Merchants’. BACK

[5] Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham (1726–1813; DNB), naval officer and administrator, who was First Lord of the Admiralty 1805–1806. BACK

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

[7] Isaac Reed (1742–1807; DNB), literary editor and book collector. He wrote for the European Magazine as well as being its proprietor, and from 1782 to 1807 he was also its editor. BACK

[8] Unidentified. BACK

[9] Southey’s ‘History of Portugal’, which was never completed. BACK

[10] Aaron Hill (1685–1750; DNB), writer and entrepreneur, whose poetry appears in the Specimens, II, pp. 141–153. BACK

[11] Southey reviewed Part the First of An Address to the Public from the Society for the Suppression of Vice, Instituted, in London, 1802, Setting Forth, with a List of the Members, the Utility and Necessity of such an Institution, and its Claim to Public Support (1803) in the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 225–231. BACK

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August 2013