986. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before and continued on] 2 November 1804 

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

986. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before and continued on] 2 November 1804 ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

I was about to answer your last immediately to request speedy intelligence how Horace continued, when some incident prevented me, & some dissipation of time or other has been continually occurring since. doubtless however he is better for of a relapse in such cases there can be no danger, & surely I may venture to write to see if he were quite well.

Send me a list of the poets which you have not yet been able to find, & I will cause enquiry to be made for them at Edinburgh when my brother goes back. divide them into reigns as Ellis  [1]  has done, by a half title – the remarks which he has affixed to each I shall not follow, as the whole will appear in the form of a preface. I shall be very glad to hear that you have received the first proof, a work begun is half done. In all likelihood one morning at the Museum [2]  would supply you with all you want for half a dozen sheets on. I wish exceedingly that this was done, for if it succeed fairly I shall certainly send out a volume of Selections from the Early Poets containing the choice pieces which Ellis has omitted, he having far far more learning than taste. [3] 


I am ashamed to think for how long this letter has remained in my desk, hidden under sundry others all in a like predicament. The fact is that about the time when it would have been finished came tidings that Horace has actually relapsed – of which I expected duly to hear some immediate report hoping also to hear of his recovery. Just now I am myself alarmed about Tom; this unfortunate affair of the Galatea [4]  has just reached me by letter. how long it may be before any certain accounts reach us God knows – & I am sadly afraid on calculating probabilities that they lie on the worse side.

My little girl too disquiets me. a premature quickness, accompanied by certain symptoms which may possibly proceed from other causes – but which I very naturally attribute to the one I fear make me very apprehensive of the same disease which carried off the other. At present she continues strong & lusty, so that one who only saw her accidentally would think that nothing ailed her. – Shall I go with the catalogue of vexations? my youngest brother has again left his ship & is vagabonding about the country, there is no hope of him. the only chance of his escaping transportation or hanging is that he may kill himself by debauchery, or so far rise into respectability as to turn Strolling Player. This however does not lie very near my heart. I have long foreseen & foretold the evil & so made up my mind to it – You have I suppose heard from Duppa that we shall be turned out of our house at Whitsuntide. [5]  I am almost without a plan or xx notion where to go.

Now Sir Grosvenor I take it all these damnabilia together are enough to make a moderate-minded man grumble. but we have a saying in Portugal – donde naō hay remedio, entao paciencia, [6]  – the Portugeze all have it at their fingers ends, & I have made it my practical text – So let me turn to a better subject – only – do write write to me as soon as any official account of the Galateas loss appears that I may know as soon as possible whether Tom be alive or not.

I sent off the last copy of the poem on Tuesday, & have this evening corrected the 49th sheet. [7]  six more sheets will carry me to the notes which will fill about fifty pages – so that the volume will contain 500 as nearly as may be. Tis a great weight off my shoulders, & a great labour done for which I shall never during my life receive any adequate remuneration – meaning like Shakespeare Spanish money [8]  – oh sweet renumeration! – thanks be Heaven it is done – & in the main well done, tho the worse for having so long been in hand, the patch work of several years being but too manifest. I commenced yesterday my campaigns against the annual authors which will occupy me & that pretty closely for about three months. [9]  And then with fresh appetite to history, which of all things I love best, & in which of all things I shall succeed best. However Kehama [10]  will then also come in for his turn. I have already a growing inclination & feel a few sneaking thoughts of how to proceed, for you will not wonder if I cannot now find very readily the end of the broken thread.

Now tell me concerning the Specimens, are they in the press? xxxxxxxxxxxx & how far advanced? & how do you & Hyems [11]  & the Devil come on. As I said before send me a list of those for whom you have no specimens, & no prefixes. in the preface to Wilkie there is a sneer at the Scotch which has more wit than liberality, & is also more true than prudent, so strike you the pen of extermination across it. [12]  I wish heartily the book was off hand, because I want it to be on sale.

Soon after Xmas I hope to send you the Madoc. it is well printed & will be a handsome book. If your friend Mr Glass could take care of it for me in the British Critic [13]  (I presuming that he could so do with a very safe conscience) it would be a very useful piece of service. In the Critical I am safe & perhaps in the Annual, [14]  But it is Tory-praise which sells a book.

God bless you.


November 2. 1804.


* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ NOV/ 1804
Endorsement: 2 Nov 1804
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey is discussing the anthology that he and Bedford compiled and published with Longman in 1807 as Specimens of the Later English Poets. It was a companion work to George Ellis’s, Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790, 2nd edn. 1801, 3rd edn. 1803). BACK

[2] The British Museum. BACK

[3] If his project to publish Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) proved successful, Southey intended to supplement Ellis’s Specimens of the Early English Poets. Late, and riddled with errors owing to Bedford’s dilatoriness, the project did not sell and the supplement to Ellis did not appear. BACK

[4] Thomas Southey’s ship, HMS Galatea, a fifth-rate 32-gun frigate. On 14 August, the Galatea’s boats made an unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French privateer General Ernouf (formerly the British sloop of war Lilly) lying at the Saintes near Guadeloupe. Of the 90 men sent on the mission, 65 were killed or wounded, and Southey suspected that Tom was among the dead. BACK

[5] Southey’s landlord, William Jackson, was negotiating the sale of his house (which in the end did not take place) to Mr White (names and dates unknown) of Keswick. BACK

[6] This translates as ‘where there is no remedy, be patient’. BACK

[7] Southey was correcting proofs of Madoc (1805) even while still revising the sections of the manuscript not yet sent to the printer. BACK

[8] In Love’s Labour’s Lost Costard has just been given money by the Spaniard, ‘Don Adriano de Armado’ and declares ‘Now will I look to his remuneration. Remuneration! O, that’s the Latin word for three farthings: three farthings – remuneration.—What’s the price of this inkle?’—’One penny’.—’No, I’ll give you a remuneration: why, it carries it. Remuneration! why, it is a fairer name than French crown. I will never buy and sell out of this word’ (Act 3, scene 1). BACK

[9] That is, reviewing books for the Annual Review. BACK

[10] The Curse of Kehama was published in 1810. BACK

[11] A Latin soubriquet of John Winter (dates unknown), a printer who frequently worked on books published by Longman. BACK

[12] The preface to the poems of William Wilkie (1721–1772) appears, sneerless, in the Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), III, p. 24. BACK

[13] Madoc was unfavourably reviewed in the British Critic, 28 (1806), 395–410 and 486–493. George Henry Glasse (1761–1809; DNB) was a clergyman friend of Bedford’s who was an author and contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine. He visited Southey in Keswick in October 1807. BACK

[14] The poem was unfavourably reviewed by Charles Le Grice (1773–1858) in the Critical Review, New Series, 7 (1806), 72–83; it received a good review, probably by William Taylor, in the Annual Review for 1805, 4 (1806), 604–613. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013