3283. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 April 1819

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, Part Six

3283. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 April 1819⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Sara Coleridge has just received a letter from Hartley announcing that he is elected Fellow of Oriel, [1]  – you need not be told the importance of this intelligence to all his family

I fear my intended journey must be put off sine die. [2]  This tardy abscess [3]  continues in the same state, it is more than three weeks since it began to appear, & it is impossible to guess when it may end. This is very unfortunate in every way. And in spite of all exertions it is as you may well suppose a heavy weight upon my spirits, – which God knows, needed no <additional> burden to depress them, – for no man has a larger lot of xxxx cares in reversion.

You run away wildly from my meaning about the Westminster meeting, [4]  as if I had meant to undervalue my Westminster friends, – whereas what I meant was that it would be no pleasure to me to meet a number of men, most of whom I never saw, many of whom I did not care a straw for, & some of whom, if I rememberd them at all, it would only be with dislike, – for tho I have a proper love for the very walls of Westminster, it by no means follows that I should have a regard for all who have Westminster men, some of whom were great beasts in the Westminster sense of the word. [5]  I have been more than usually fortunate in retaining two lasting friendships from the intimacies found there, [6] xx there are perhaps two or three more which might ripen into something more than <familiar> acquaintance if opportunity offerd, – - but only one which would ever be again become a friendship. I think if Strachey were in my neighbourhood we should draw together by attraction – as we did thirty years ago.

I have sent off something to Gifford this evening for the lucre of gain. [7] 

Herries must be much gratified by the honours which have been shown to his fathers memory. [8]  He has been a fortunate man in having both parents live to a good old age. I hope his children may <all> be equally favoured, – & this is the best wish that I can form for him & for them. [9] 

Your godson thrives surprizingly, – more so than any of his predecessors. Poor child, I did not wish for him, – but he is welcome now he is here, – & will I doubt not be well provided for in this world, or in the next. Go when I may he will find friends, even if I should be called away before I have made a fair provision for him. – Yesterday I received a circular letter desiring me to subscribe to a monument for Burns at Edinburgh. [10]  I must be paid better as a living poet before I subscribe to build monuments for dead ones. And were I overflowing with wealth I would never contribute to such a purpose while any deserving man of letters was in distress

I had nearly forgotten to request you to pay Osiris for a certain machine [11]  which I commissioned him to send me down. – We must trouble Murraylemagne with no inclosures for his parcels in future. He is too great a man to be made use of for such purpose, – & that greatness is communicated to his people, – they throw such things aside & forget them. However I have had nothing from him since Feby. 4. [12]  The discovery which he has made of my disposition I think may be explained thus; – he learnt, I believe, that I had expressed a strong disapprobation of the system of Blackwoods Magazine, & wrote rather warmly (not angrily) to ask why I would not assist him in it: I told him in reply [13]  how I abhorred the use of such personalities as that Magazine abounded with, – Murraylemagne was very shortly involved in some scrapes by the very fault which I had objected to, – & glad to get rid of his share in the concern. [14]  And I dare say, he likes me the less for having been right when I differed from him in opinion about it.

I hope Henry is recovered. – Thank you for the trouble you have taken about Landors obdurate verses. [15]  His Latin is marvellously difficult.

God bless you


Keswick 19 Ap. 1819.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row
Endorsements: 19 April 1819; 19 April 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Hartley Coleridge had been elected a Probationary Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford, for one year, on 16 April 1819. BACK

[2] The Latin translates as: ‘without assigning a day for a future meeting’. BACK

[3] Southey was concerned about his wife Edith, who had been ill since the birth of Charles Cuthbert Southey on 24 February 1819. BACK

[4] An annual reunion in London of ex-pupils at Westminster School, the school that Southey attended 1788–1792. BACK

[5] Bullies. BACK

[7] Possibly Southey’s article ‘Cemeteries and Catacombs of Paris’, Quarterly Review, 21 (April 1819), 359–398. BACK

[8] John Herries (1745–1819), a merchant, and Colonel of the London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers, had died at Hastings on 3 April 1819; the Morning Chronicle, 9 April 1819, announced that his ‘remains are to be brought to town and interred with military honours’. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 17 April 1819 and a memorial erected in his honour. Herries’s wife was Mary Ann Johnson (dates unknown). BACK

[9] Herries and his wife Sarah, née Dorington (1787–1821), eventually had six children: Sir Charles John Herries, financier (1815–1883); Sarah Herries (1816–1824); Captain William Robert Herries, of the 3rd Light Dragoons (1818–1845); Isabella Ann Herries (1818–1897); Maria Julia Herries (1819–1857); and Edward Herries, diplomat (1821–1911). BACK

[10] Robert Burns (1759–1796; DNB), Scottish poet. A meeting in London in 1819 had formed a committee to raise funds for what became the Burns Monument in Edinburgh (1831). BACK

[11] A machine to give patients mild electric shocks. It was being used on Edith Southey; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 7 April 1819, Letter 3279. BACK

[12] Since the parcel containing Quarterly Review, 19 (July 1818), published on 2 February 1819. BACK

[13] Robert Southey to John Murray, 7 October 1818, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Five, Letter 3201. BACK

[14] Murray had taken a share in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1817, but had been horrified by the public controversy and legal actions caused by the attack on Hazlitt in ‘Hazlitt Cross Questioned’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 3 (August 1818), 550–552, as well as the Magazine’s denigration of William Gifford and Thomas Moore. In March 1819 he severed his connections with the publication. BACK

[15] Landor’s Latin ode, ‘Ad Gustavum Regem Suedorum’ (1819), unpublished until it appeared in Poemata et Inscriptiones (London, 1847), pp. 219–220. Landor had entered it for a prize offered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (founded 1786). BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)