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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1373. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 October 1807 ⁠* 

24 Oct 1807

My dear Grosvenor

Mr Glasse [1]  has been here – aptly is that man called Glasse, – because you may see thro him. One likes to see any thing perfect in its kind & therefore I am glad I have seen this perfect composition of Rose-pomatum, flesh and flummery.

Send whatever books of mine you have to Rickmans, as a general exportation is about to take place. I think you have two portraits of my mother, which were left with you when we left London in 1802. If you could get them packed securely I should be glad to have them, now that I have a settled place of residence.

I am looking very anxiously for news from my Uncle & Brother who were to leave Lisbon on the 12th: their passage was taken & then my Uncles books on board: but if the precaution of sending a squadron to th there has not been taken British property is not much more safe in the river than it would be on shore. There is a degree of cruelty in Bonapartes mode of carrying on war against us which would make him detestable in the eyes of all Europe, if we did not contrive to do things more shocking & more stupid. When I remember the business of the Spanish Frigates [2]  & now of Copenhagen [3]  I almost tremble for what may be the fate of England in this contest, of which, with God & a good cause on our side I should hold it criminal to feel a doubt. But after two such national sins our punishment cannot be heavier than our offence, & if it be we fall, we shall fall unpitied. He who first said Fiat justitia ruat mundus  [4]  said well, but it is because justice is not done that ruin ensues.

Mr Glasse as soon as we met began talking of Our friends. In generally I have a remarkably quick comprehension, which is in fact what most distinguishes my the best faculty of {my} mind but this phrase puzzled me, & certainly I did not twig to use a Westminster phrase, till a lucky supplementary sentence made me see that he meant the late ministers. He let me understand that their dismissal was a great misfortune to him. – You told me Grosvenor I should not like him, & in plain truth I have very seldom seen any one whom I disliked more. Now give me all due praise when I add that I really did put on my very best behaviour & prest him to dine with me with as much seriousness as if his heart had not been hollower than a pumpkin. He introduced himself by a note beginning with ‘The name of Grosvenor Bedford’ & then came flammery, & something about a very dear fellow traveller, who proved to be a great piece of flesh which as far as flesh goes looks like flesh of his flesh indeed, for such a rib must ha have needs have been taken xx out of a fat side. Do not however suppose that I would speak ill-naturedly of her, she never held up her head while I was in the room.

Have you got Palmerin, [5]  & have you had Espriella, [6]  as you should have had three months ago? – I have a quarto in the press – the Chronicle of the Cid, [7]  & it gets rapidly thro it. This will take me to London xxxx soon after Xmas, if not before xx, for the notes & introduction must be compleated from books at Holland House. [8]  It is likely too that if Lord Bute should be at Luton [9]  I may go there upon the same errand. My Uncle will be at England to introduce & perhaps accompany me.

Heaven send our Specimens to a second edition that we may retrieve our character, – but they are truly too bad for me to have the least hope of this. [10]  I wish you would send me that Jack the Giant Killer squib [11]  which you most wickedly in some evil hour of dullness omitted. I have a place for it & can turn it to account.

If Elmsley be in town I wish you would ask him for me if there be any means of getting books from Italy. I want some modern works from thence & some of older date from France. & perhaps he could put them into the the list into the hands of some bookseller who might be able to send it to the continent. The Longmen of the Row know nothing of this kind of business. They are all books relating to S. America, & most of them are the last legacies of the Jesuits.

God bless you

RS.

Oct. 24. 1807.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ OCT 27/ 1807
Endorsement: 24 Oct 1807
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] George Henry Glasse (1761–1809; DNB), clergyman friend of Bedford’s who lived near Acton. Glasse, known for his short, tubby, stature, was an author and contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine. BACK

[2] On 10 July 1807 the naval hero and MP for Westminster Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775–1860; DNB), denied prize money and promotion owed his crew after the capture of enemy frigates in 1801 and 1806, attempted to initiate in parliament an enquiry into naval corruption. His motion was not seconded. BACK

[3] In summer 1807 the British, believing that France would gain possession of Denmark and its fleet, amassed ships and troops and on 2 September launched a pre-emptive attack on Copenhagen, causing the deaths of over two thousand townspeople. BACK

[4] Meaning ‘let justice be done though the world fall’. BACK

[5] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). BACK

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

[7] Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid, from the Spanish was published by Longmans in 1808. It comprised translations from the Crónica particular del Cid (1593), with additions from the Crónica de España of Alphonso the Wise (1541) and Romancero e Historia del Cid (1632). BACK

[8] The library of Spanish books assembled by Henry Richard Vassall-Fox. BACK

[9] John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute (1744–1814; DNB), son of the 3rd Earl of Bute (1713–1792, Prime Minister 1762–1763; DNB) a literary patron, whose library the Marquess inherited. BACK

[10] Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807), co-edited with Bedford, and published, to Southey’s dismay, with numerous errors. There was no second edition. BACK

[11] Benjamin Tabart (1767–1833) published The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk in 1807. But perhaps Southey refers to Frank Sayers (1763–1817; DNB) who in his 1803 collection Nugæ Poeticæ included a comic versification of ‘Jack the Giant-Killer’. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013