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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 26 May 1813

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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“Keswick, May 26. 1813.
“My dear Grosvenor,

Tom is made quite unhappy by these repeated victories of the Americans; and for my own part I regard them with the deepest and gloomiest forebodings. The superior weight of metal will not account for all. I heard a day or two ago from a Liverpoolian, lately in America, that they stuff their wadding with bullets. This may kill a few more men, but will not explain how it is that our ships are so soon demolished, not merely disabled. Wordsworth and I agreed in suspecting some improvement in gunnery (Fulton is likely enough to have discovered something) before I saw the same supposition thrown out in the ‘Times.’ Still there would remain something more alarming to be resolved, and that is, how it happens that we injure them so little? I very much fear that there may be a dreadful secret
at the bottom, which your fact about the cartridges* of the Macedonian points at. Do you know, or does
Henry know, a belief in the navy which I heard from Ponsonby, that the crew of the —— loaded purposely in this manner, in order that by being made prisoners they might be delivered from ——’s tyranny? When Coleridge was at Malta, Sir A. Ball received a round-robin from ——’s crew, many of whom had served under him, and who addressed him in a manner which made his heart ache, as he was, of course, compelled to put the paper into ——’s hands. One day Coleridge was with him when this man’s name was announced, and turning, he said to him in a low voice, ‘Here comes one of those men who will one day blow up the British navy.’

“I do not know that the captain of the Macedonian was a tyrant. Peake certainly was not; he is well known here, having married a cousin of Wordsworth’s; his ship was in perfect order, and he as brave and able a man as any in the service. Here it seems that the men behaved well; but in ten minutes the ship was literally knocked to pieces, her sides fairly staved in; and I think this can only be explained by some improvements in the manufactory of powder, or in the manner of loading, &c. But as

* “H. Sharp is just arrived from Lisbon; he has been in America, where he went on board the Macedonian and the United States.1 He says the captured ship was pierced through and through, and full of shot, while in the American vessel scarcely any have been lodged. Our ship seems to have been very badly fought; the captors declared that they found many of the guns with the cartridges put in the wrong way.”—G. C. B. to R. S., May 24. 1813

1 The name of the vessel that took the Macedonian.

a general fact, and of tremendous application, I verily believe that the sailors prefer the enemy’s service to our own. It is in vain to treat the matter lightly, or seek to conceal from ourselves the extent of the evil. Our naval superiority is destroyed!

“My chief business in town will be to make arrangements for supplying the huge deficit which the termination of my labours in the Register occasions. I wish to turn to present account my Spanish materials, and still more the insight which I have acquired into the history of the war in the Peninsula; and to recast that portion of the Register, carry it on, and bring it forth in a suitable form. This cannot be done without the consent of the publishers—Ballantyne, Longman, and Murray. To the two latter I have written, and am about to write to James Ballantyne. Should the thing be brought to bear, I must procure an introduction to Marquis Wellesley,—that is, to the documents which I doubt not he would very readily supply; and I should have occasion for all the assistance from the Foreign Office which my friends could obtain. To the Marquis I have means of access through Mr. Littleton, and probably, also, via Gifford, through Canning. It may be of use if you make known my wishes in that quarter.

R. S.”