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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 16 February 1811

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, Feb. 16. 1811.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“If I had not heard of you from Gifford at the beginning of the month, I should have been very uneasy about you. Thank you for your letter, and for your serviceable interpolation of the review*, which is just what it should be,—that is to say, just what I would wish it, only I wish you would not call me the most sublime poet of the age, because, in this point, both Wordsworth and Landor are at least my equals. You will not suspect me of any mock-modesty in this. On the whole, I shall have done greater things than either, but not because I possess greater powers.

“My abode under Skiddaw will have been more unfavourable to my first year’s Annals than to any other, because I had fewer channels of information opened, and because of home politics I was very ignorant, never liking them well enough to feel any interest beyond that of an election feeling. Now that it becomes my business to be better informed, I have spared no pains to become so; and the probability is, that I learn as much political news to my purpose by letters, as I should do by that intercourse which would be compatible with my way of life. Of three points I have now convinced myself, that the great

* This refers to a reviewal of Kehama, which Mr. Bedford had written for the Quarterly, not knowing that Sir Walter Scott had one in preparation. The latter was the one inserted.

Ætat. 36. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 303
desideratum in our own government is a Premier instead of a Cabinet,—that a regular opposition is an absurdity which could not exist anywhere but in an island, without destroying the government,—and that parliamentary reform is the shortest road to anarchy.

“I am sincerely obliged to Gifford for his desire to serve me, and sincerely glad that I stand in need of no services,—not that I am by any means above being served, or feel any ways uncomfortable under an obligation. On the contrary, I should hold myself in the highest degree obliged to any person who would promote Tom for my sake; but for this we must wait till the First Lord is in power. For myself, I am in a fair way of wanting nothing; and if great men will but give me their praise*, they may keep their promises for others; their praise would prove actual puddings; let them only make it the fashion to buy my books, and in seven years’ time I will purchase a house and ground enough for the use of a dairy within a day’s journey of London. Scott had 2000 guineas for the Lady of the Lake. If Canning would but compare Bonaparte to Kehama in the House of Commons, I might get half as much by my next poem.

“I am reviewing Pasley’s book—the most important political work that ever appeared in any country.

* “Your article on the Evangelical Sects is much admired, and a few days ago, Perceval mentioned it in terms of the highest praise at his own table. Herries, who was present, told him that you were the author of it, and he did not praise it one whit the less on that account, but said it was the fairest, most candid, and comprehensive view he had ever seen of any subject”—G. C. B. to R. S., Feb. 6. 1811.

The minister who shall first become a believer in that book, and act upon its unanswerable principles, will obtain a higher reputation than ever statesman did before him. My review will be conciliatory towards the husbanding politicians, that is, it will endeavour to make them ashamed without making them angry. The blistering plaister for
Whitbread goes all into the Register.

Abella supplies me well with Spanish papers. I have found him excellently useful. He writes to me in —issimos of esteem, and I outstep a little the usual pace of English compliments in return, and am his friend and servant in superlatives—with a good conscience, believe me, for I really like him, and am very sensible of his services. Of course I have sent him my best works, and no doubt my name will soon be in high odour in the Isle of Leon. It was a mortification to me to hear he was about to return before I could see him in London. . . . .

“I have again taken to Pelayo, after a long interval, and the third section is nearly finished. It will bring me into busier scenes, and the story will begin to open. I am afraid that, having thus begun ab ovo, I must change the title of the poem, and call it Spain restored, for Pelayo cannot appear till I have got on a thousand lines. If I cared about rules, this would be a fault; but the structure must depend upon the materials, and I have not too much of Roderick in the beginning, considering the part he has to play in the end.

“The capture of the Isle of France is a good thing. We must now look to the Persian Gulf and
Ætat. 36. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 305
the Red Sea, and take especial care to keep the French out of those important points—important as to the means they afford of annoying us in their hands, or of spreading civilisation in ours. Next year I purpose to give a whole chapter to the French intrigues with Persia, and their views in that quarter. I have neither time nor room for it in the present volume.

“I most heartily rejoice that the Outs are Outs still.

R. S.”