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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1255. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2 January 1807 ⁠* 

2 Jany 1807

My dear Grosvenor

Judging of your complaint by your medicine, I suppose your liver is affected. Now tho calomel [1]  is usually the best medicine in such cases it is not always so – & I know one instance (that of Mrs Clarkson) wherein by immediately proscribing it & prescribing something else, Beddoes checked the disease, & saved the patient. For Gods sake Grosvenor if you do not certainly feel yourself recovering by this ordinary mode of practise state your case to Beddoes, a man who never tries experiments except when ordinary methods would fail, & who in liver cases is eminently successful. This is not said from any personal liking to the man – I do not like him, – but I have the highest respect for his professional talents, & would in any case of illness resign myself into his hand with the most perfect confidence that he would do for me whatever could be done by medical skill.

As for my prose style – this is my prose style for this Preface, [2]  – & in the next prose you see of mine – which I suppose will be Espriella [3]  you will see my prose-style for that, – & when the Cid [4]  appears, there will be another prose style – & so on for my style shall always mould itself to the subject & not my subject to my style. Sometimes it shall be a stile, & sometimes a xxx turnstile, & sometimes a five barred gate, & sometimes such a stile as we have in Cumberland which is very like a ladder. And so in verse as in prose. Judge Jeffray  [5]  of the Scotch Review, alias Gog, [6]  abused me for not imitating Pope when I wrote Madoc. [7]  I said to him that the stile of Pope was excellent for satire, & perhaps if I wrote satire I should imitate it. That’s a great concession, said he. – No Sir, rejoined I, – for if it be the fit style for satire, how can it be xxx fit xx for narration? —

A last word about the Specimens. – Amos Cottles birth was in 1766. – I wrote to his brother [8]  – before our notice was written – for such facts as he would wish to have published – he mistook my meaning, & sent me a very long letter containing his history, – which you shall one day see inasmuch as it will give you rather more abhorrence of the Evangelical Character in the person of Mr Thornton [9]  than perhaps even you feel at present. But these are things not to be mentioned now, nor in such a work as ours – & what I sent you must stand.

Cannot one page be spared for AB? [10]  it would raise a laugh, – & the reader who laughs is put into good humour by the action of the risible muscles. – Remember the cancels, the poem upon Felton – because of the misprint – & because written affixed to Feltons gibbet, not written by Buckingham [11]  – A part of Gildons, & of Amhursts because not decent. [12] 

Had you not better send me the proofs till it is no longer a fatigue to you to correct them? – I am furiously at work clearing away all before me that I may have nothing to prevent me from compleating a History of Brazil in no time at all as the Patricians say. I hope to finish D. Manuel [13]  by the end of the month, & the Printer will not be many weeks behind me. Three volumes will not comprize all I have to say & meant to have said – but no matter. If he succeeds he may travel again hereafter.

Do Grosvenor send me Bulletins of your health – If his Honour is not always at law then Rickman is. [14] 

When the sun shines I walk down to the Lake side & get under the rocks at the end of Scriggins Scrag [15]  – (Duppa knows the place) – & then study – what do you suppose – my Dutch grammar.

My bedoctored brother will be soon in town. You will like him well.

God bless you.


Friday Jany 2. 1807.

A happy new year, & many returns! –


* Address: G. C. Bedford Esqr
Endorsement: 2 Janry 1807; 157 – 25/ 137 102
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 403–404 [in part]. BACK

[1] The common name for mercury chloride, which was taken for various ailments. BACK

[2] The preface to Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). BACK

[3] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[4] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[5] Here Southey deliberately portrays Francis Jeffrey, severe critic, as George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem (1645–1689; DNB), known as ‘The Hanging Judge’ for the severity of the sentences he handed down after the Monmouth rebellion of 1685. BACK

[6] Gog and Magog were a pair of legendary giants, who, according to London legend, were captured and chained to the gates of the palace of the mythical first king of Britain, on the site of which the Guildhall stands. Carvings of the giants are kept at the Guildhall and used in the Lord Mayor’s show each year. BACK

[7] The review appeared in the Edinburgh Review, 7 (October 1805), 1–29. BACK

[8] For this, see Southey to Joseph Cottle, 11 August 1806, Letter 1210. BACK

[9] Henry Thornton (1760–1815; DNB), banker and political economist, evangelical member of the Clapham sect, supporter of Hannah More’s Bristol Sunday schools, of Henry Kirke White, and chairman of the Sierra Leone company, in which capacity he clashed with, and in 1793 dismissed as colonial governor, Thomas Clarkson’s brother John (1764–1828; DNB). BACK

[10] The only poet with these initials included in Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) is Aphra Behn (1640–1689; DNB). BACK

[11] John Felton (c. 1595–1628), an army officer who stabbed George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592–1628; DNB) to death in Portsmouth on 23 August 1628. No poem about Felton was included in the selection of poetry by murdered Duke’s son, George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1628–1687; DNB). For the text of the poem, see Poems and Songs Relating to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham; and his Assassination by John Felton, August 23, 1628, ed. Frederick W. Fairholt (London, 1850), pp. 77–78. BACK

[12] Edits for Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). Charles Gildon (1665–1723; DNB); Nicholas Amhurst (1697–1742; DNB). BACK

[13] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[14] Meaning that if the Speaker of the House of Commons himself was not at work, Rickman, employed in his office, would nevertheless use his privilege to frank letters and thus send them gratis. BACK

[15] Presumably a family name for a small crag at the north end of Derwentwater, near Friars’ Crag. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013