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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1706. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 November 1809 ⁠* 

Wednesday Nov. 8. 1809

My dear Grosvenor

The other half notes have not arrived, [1]  & having two other things to say, I write to notify their non-arrival.

Can you inform me in what manner a person having an annuity of 20 £ can recover the income tax, which that Rehoboam [2]  of Taxation Lord H. Petty, [3]  obliged all such persons to pay, – in the hope of that very many of them, as is the case, would not know how to get it back again? –

Will you say to Gifford that I should like to review James Grahames British Georgics, [4]  – of which I am in hourly expectation, Ballantyne having sent me the book. Personally I have much respect for James Grahame, – he is capable of producing passages of exceeding beauty, but always deficient in the whole art of arrangement. It would gratify me to have an opportunity of pointing out his faults in a right tone of criticism, & doing the same justice to his merits. And the subject of t his poem, together with the very nature of didactic poetry would supply ground work for an entertaining article.

If Flushing is retaken it will be Lord Chathams [5]  fault. A plan was laid before him for rendering it very strong – almost impregnable, – at the same time Col Darcy, [6]  one of the old women among the Engineers gave in his opinion that the place was not defensable. Ld Chatham pays no attention to the plan (which came from a man of first rate talent & ability in his profession) & leaves the very Col Darcy to fortify the place.

I do not think these wretches can keep their ground, – they are so obedient not merely the servants of the Crown, but the very menials, – the sycophants – absolutely the Kissarcie of the King, – & if they do not take care John Bull [7]  will xxx {be provoked at last to} play the part of Kickarcius for his own benefit. Where are we to look for any thing better is the question. And I will own to you that this is a question which I cannot answer, – for in my conscience I think Lord Grenville nothing better, & the Foxites [8]  a great deal worse: Luckily I do not think it is possible to ruin England, – but if it be possible these such statesmen as ours will do it. ins & outs alike, there is not a pin to chuse between them. – Buonapartes best allies are in the British Cabinet. I could say much about this, – but it is post time – & I have other fish to fry.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ NOV 11/ 1809
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A secure way of sending money in the post was to tear banknotes in half and send the two halves separately. BACK

[2] In the Bible, Rehoboam was a 10th-century BC King of Israel, whose citizens rebelled against him due to the heavy taxations he imposed on them. See 1 Kings 12 and 14:21–31, and 2 Chronicles 10–12. BACK

[3] Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (1780–1863; DNB), Whig politician who as Chancellor of the Exchequer (between February 1806 and March 1807) raised property tax by 50 per cent and pursued a policy of economy in public expenditure. BACK

[4] James Grahame, British Georgics (1809), Quarterly Review, 3 (May 1810), 456–461. BACK

[5] John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham (1756–1835; DNB), army officer and younger brother of the former prime minister William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB) whose role in the ill-fated Walcheren expedition of 1809 was criticised. The British took Flushing on 15 August but, weakened by malaria, left it by the end of the year, having destroyed its port and fortifications. BACK

[6] Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph D’Arcy (1780–1848). BACK

[7] A personification of Britain, or more particularly England. BACK

[8] A faction within the Whig party who were followers of the policies of Charles James Fox. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013