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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1714. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 November 1809 ⁠* 

Nov. 26. 1809

Dear Grosvenor

Get a name potential [1]  for me upon the inclosed, which contains the three concluding sections of Kehama. [2]  I finished it yesterday, – but it goes wafered [3]  because you have not seen the all the foregoing parts. As fast as possible I shall compleat Toms copy, – you must I think already have been struck with the resemblance between the Man-Almighty [4]  & the Butler [5]  & you will be still more so as you proceed.

Huzza! I have made such a brave Hell [6]  that you will almost wish yourself there for the pleasure of seeing it. When you see Elmsley tell him the Poem is done – he is one of the very few persons who encouraged me to go on with it. Tell him also that I rhymed it to please myself & not the public, & that I have the consolation of foreseeing that xxx such} rhymes will be infinitely more obnoxious than the Thalaban [7]  blank verse.

I am planning two other poems Pelayo [8]  & Robin Hood, [9]  & shall begin both as soon as the outline is sufficiently compleat.

Next week I suppose will bring me the new number of the Quarterly & the last with it.

Tom is in the Lyra Brig, [10]  made acting Commander by Sotheby. [11]  We are applying to get him confirmed, – which will not be done, being contrary to system, – but there is some hope that they will promote him shortly after having set him aside

My Uncle has had his choice of two livings offered him, St Pauls Covent Garden, or Streatham by the D of Bedford. [12]  I believe he can accept of neither, – but this is as yet undetermined. At present he seems to prefer his fine situation in Herefordshire with 600 a year to Streatham 1000£ – in my judgement very wisely.

God bless you

RS. O.P  [13] 


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ [in another hand] Exchequer
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24, fol 125
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A frank for the letter from a Member of Parliament. BACK

[2] Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[3] Meaning sealed with a wax wafer. BACK

[4] Meaning the villain Kehama in The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[5] The mythological hero of extraordinary powers in the whimsical tales and jokes that Southey and Bedford spun at school. BACK

[6] Padalon in The Curse of Kehama (1810), Book 23. BACK

[7] Southey’s poem Thalaba the Destroyer (1st edn, 1801; 2nd edn, 1809). BACK

[8] This was published in 1814 as Roderick Last of the Goths. BACK

[9] Southey had begun to plan a romance on this subject in 1804; it was not until 1823 that he began drafting the verse, in collaboration with Caroline Bowles (1786–1854; DNB). The poem remained unfinished, and was published posthumously as a fragment in an edition by Bowles: Robin Hood: a Fragment by the Late Robert Southey and Caroline Southey, with other Fragments and Poems (1847). BACK

[10] HMS Lyra was a Royal Navy Cherokee class 10-gun brig-sloop, launched in August 1808. BACK

[11] Thomas Southey was now under the command of Rear Admiral Thomas Sotheby (1759–1831), younger brother of the author, William Sotheby (1757–1833; DNB), who was Southey’s acquaintance. BACK

[12] John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766–1839; DNB). BACK

[13] A reference to the ‘OP’ or ‘Old Price Riots’ of 1809 which were caused by rising prices at the new theatre at Covent Garden after the previous one had been destroyed by fire. The riots began 18 September 1809 and lasted three months, ending with the theatre manager, John Philip Kemble (1757–1823; DNB) being forced to make a public apology. The rioters referred to themselves as OPs. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013