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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1415. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 11 January 1808 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

My brother Tom is as uncomfortable without a Steels-list [1]  in his pocket, as you & I should be without a handkerchief there if we wanted to blow our noses. Now as it is a two months operation to get one down by any other way, I pray you buy the last, & get Herries  [2]  to frank it down, for it will very well go in one of Percevals franks, – & I will reimburse you the shilling when we meet, & add as many thanks as shall make up the interest.

I have seen both the Scotch [3]  & the more rascally British Review of our Specimens, – both a good deal worse than the book itself, which is a great consolation. For they have really not discovered the {its} defects of the book, & have imputed faults to it which it does not possess. If the first edition can be got off of I will make it a curious & good book.

How soon I may see you Heaven knows – the sooner the better. My Uncle is in town, & applications are made to him from all quarters for the information which Lord G.  [4]  rejected last year as relating to the wrong side of S. America – a damning fact, between you & I, against his statesmanship. – I am in hopes that he will draw up an account of the Present State of Brazil (which no other person living can do so well) – while I proceed with the history. This removal of the Braganza family is a great event, [5]  – tho it has been done not merely without that dignity which might have been given it, but even meanly & pitifully. In truth nothing better could be expected from the Prince Regent. Still the event itself is a great one, & if I could transfuse into you all the recollections &c – which it brings with it to me, you would feel an interest in it which, no person xxxx can it is not very easy to describe.

I am hard at work; & shall be able to send my first volume to press [6]  as soon as I return from London. Meantime the thought of the journey plagues me, – the older I grow the more do I dislike going from home – Oh dear oh dear – there is such a comfort in ones old coat, & old shoes, – one’s own chair & one’s own fireside, one’s own writing desk & own library, – with a little girl climbing up my neck & saying do’nt go to London Pappa – you must stay with Edith – & a little boy whom I have taught to speak the language of cats dogs cuckoos & jack-asses &c before he can articulate a word of his own – there is such a comfort in all these things, that transportation to London for four or five weeks seems a heavier punishment than any sins of mine deserve. Nevertheless I shall be heartily glad to see Grosvenor Bedford, – provided Grosvenor Bedford does not look as if his liver were out of order. – How are you? whenever you are silent I am apprehensive –

God bless you

RS.

Jany 11. 1808


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr –/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single.
Endorsement: 11 Jany 1808.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: E/ JAN 14/ 1808
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 129–31 [with omissions]. BACK

[1] Steel’s list of the Royal Navy was published monthly and detailed ships, guns, year built or taken, stations and Commanders - with the addition of the dates of the commencement and conclusion of commissions. BACK

[2] Bedford’s friend John Charles Herries, who was employed as private secretary to Spencer Perceval, then Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. BACK

[3] Southey’s and Bedford’s Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) were reviewed in the Edinburgh Review, 11 (October 1807), 31–40, and in the British Critic, 29 (1807), 245–249. BACK

[4] The reply given when in late 1806 Southey enquired of the then Prime Minister William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville (1759–1834; DNB) (through his cousin Wynn) whether a report on South America and Brazil would be of interest, given Britain’s recent attack on Buenos Aires; see Southey to John May, 29 December 1806, Letter 1252. BACK

[5] On 29 November 1807, a British squadron under the command of Sir William Sidney Smith (1764–1840; DNB) had escorted the Portuguese Prince Regent, John VI (the Duke of Braganza) (1767–1826), and the Queen, his mother, across the Atlantic to escape the French invasion of their country. BACK

[6] Of the History of Brazil published in three volumes from 1810 to 1819. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013