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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 17 November 1808

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Nov. 17. 1808.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“You have taken what I said a little too seriously; that is, you have given it more thought than it de-
served. The case stands thus: you wish to serve the public, ministers wish to serve themselves; and so it happens that, just at this time, the two objects are the same. I am very willing to travel with them as far as we are going the same way, and, when our roads separate, shall of course leave them. Meantime, that suppression which there certainly will be upon certain points is of little consequence to me, who shall have nothing to do with those points.
Murray has sent me materials for the missionary article, in which Gifford wishes me to enter upon the subject generally. My intent was to have confined myself to the Hindoo question; but I am master of the whole subject, and will therefore take the wider view. There are three reviewals of mine upon this very topic in the three first Annuals, and these were the first which ever appeared concerning them. I am strong here, and shall do well, God willing; yet how much better could I do if nobody but Robert Southey were responsible for the opinions expressed.

“I know from Walter Scott that he reviews the Cid; it is not a text for entering directly upon the present Spanish affairs, though a fine one for touching upon them. Two things are required for the review of that book which will not be found in one person—a knowledge of Spanish literature, and of the manners of chivalry, so as to estimate the comparative value of my Chronicle. The latter knowledge Scott possesses better than any body else.

“About Cevallos you best know your own stock of materials. Authors may be divided into silk-
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 187
worms and spiders,—those who spin because they are full, and those who spin because they are empty. It is not likely that there are any facts of importance which are not known to the public; and, indeed, if I undertook the task, I should have little to do with the past history of these transactions, but state as summarily and strongly as I could what the conduct of France had been; hold up the war as a crusade on the part of us and the Spaniards (I love and vindicate the Crusades); show why I expected this from their character, and also why I now expect in full faith a glorious termination at last, though prepared to hear of heavy reverses for a time, possibly the recoronation of
Joseph at Madrid. Finally, I would represent the thought of peace with Bonaparte as high treason against all honourable feelings, and all liberty. Of the Spanish frigates I would say nothing; would to God that they who issued orders for their capture were buried in the deep with them! There is a sort of methodical writing, carrying with it an air of official imposingness which does better in such cases than better things (though I would not be supposed to imply that it necessarily excludes them); and of this style I should guess that Herries is master.

Elmsley may be applied to, and, I think, with success. As for Davy, I know not whether the prize which he received from Bonaparte sticks to his fingers or no; I would sooner have cut mine off than accepted it. It is likely to co-operate with some of his Royal Institution associates in making him cry out for peace: yet Davy’s heart is sound at the core,
and his all-grasping, all-commanding genius must have redeemed him. The best channel to him is through
Sotheby, a man on whom you may calculate. I am particularly anxious that my hint about Poole should be adopted. One article from him about the poor will be worth its weight in gold. I hope Malthus will not be a contributor. By that first book moral restraint was pronounced impracticable; by his second it is relied upon as his remedy for the poors’ rates, which are to be abolished to prevent the poor from marrying; and moral restraint and the parson are to render them contented in celibacy. His main principle is that God makes men and women faster than He can feed them, and he calls upon government to stop the breed. As if we did not at this moment want men for our battles! Rickman’s name should stand in the place of his. Rickman has tenfold his knowledge and his ability. There is no man living equal to Rickman upon the subject of political economy. He, too, is a Crusader as to this war. Malthus will prove a peacemonger.

“It would attract much notice, and carry with it much recommendation, if an account of the Welsh Archæology could be procured. Turner may be asked for it; I am afraid he is too busy: William Owen, alas! is one of Joanna Southcote’s four-and-twenty elders; and Bard Williams is, God knows where, and nothing is to be got out of him except by word of mouth. There is, however, the chance of Turner; there is Davies of Olveston, the author of
Ætat. 34. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 189
Celtic Researches; there is Wynn’s Welshman—Peter Roberts.

“Farewell! I finish my Annualising in a few days, and shall then set about the Missions.

“God bless you!

R. S.

“Let not Gifford suppose me a troublesome man to deal with, pertinacious about trifles, or standing upon punctilios of authorship. No, Grosvenor, I am a quiet, patient, easy-going hack of the mule breed; regular as clockwork in my pace, sure-footed, bearing the burden which is laid on me, and only obstinate in choosing my own path. If Gifford could see me by this fireside where, like Nicodemus, one candle suffices me in a large room, he would see a man in a coat ‘still more threadbare than his own’ when he wrote his ‘Imitation,’ working hard and getting little,—a bare maintenance, and hardly that; writing poems and history for posterity with his whole heart and soul; one daily progressive in learning, not so learned as he is poor, not so poor as proud; not so proud as happy. Grosvenor, there is not a lighter-hearted nor a happier man upon the face of this wide world.

“Your godson thinks that I have nothing to do but to play with him, and anybody who saw what reason he has for his opinion would be disposed to agree with him. I wish you could see my beautiful boy!”