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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 26 January 1821

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, Jan. 26. 1821.
“My dear Grosvenor,

“Yesterday evening I received ‘Roderic, Dernier Roi des Goths, Poëme tradui de l’Anglais de Robert Southey, Esq., Poëte Laureat, par M. le Chevalier * * *.‘ Printed at Versailles and published at Paris by Galignani. It was accompanied by a modest and handsome letter from the translator, M. Chevalier de Sagrie, and by another from Madame St. Anne Holmes, the lady to whom it is dedicated. This lady has formerly favoured me with some letters and with a tragedy of hers, printed at Angers. She is a very clever woman, and writes almost as beautiful a hand as Miss Ponsonby of Llangollen. She is rich, and has lived in high life, and writes a great deal about Sheridan, as having been very intimate with him in his latter years. Me, Mr. Bedford, unworthy as I am, this lady has chosen for her poëte favori, and by her persuasions the Chevalier has translated Roderick into French. This is not all: there is a part of the business which is so truly booksellerish in general, and French in particular, that it would be a sin to withhold it from you, and you shall have it in the very words of my correspondent St. Anne.

“‘There is one part of the business I cannot pass over in silence: it has shocked me much, and calls for an apology; which is,—The life of Robert Southey, Esq., P.L. It never could have entered my mind to be guilty of, or even to sanction, such an imperti-
nence. But the fact is this, the printer and publisher, Mr. Le Bel of the Royal Printing-office Press in Versailles (printers, by-the-bye, are men of much greater importance here than they are in England) insisted upon having the life. He said the French know nothing of M. Southey, and in order to make the work sell, it must be managed to interest them for the author. To get rid of his importunities we said we were not acquainted with the life of Mr. Southey. Would you believe it? this was verbatim his answer:—“N’importe! écrivez toujours, brodez! brodez-la un peu, que ce soit vrai ou non ce ne fait rien; qui prendra la peine de s’informer?” Terrified lest this ridiculous man should succeed in his point, I at last yielded, and sent to London to procure all the lives; and from them, and what I had heard from my dear departed friend
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, we drew up the memoir.’

Grosvenor, whoever writes my life when the subject has an end as well as a beginning, and does not insert this biographical anecdote in it, may certainly expect that I will pull his ears in a true dream, and call him a jackass.

“The Notice sur M. Southey, which has been thus compounded, has scarcely one single point accurately stated, as you may suppose, and not a few which are ridiculously false. N’importe, as M. Le Bel says, I have laughed heartily at the whole translation, and bear the translation with a magnanimity which would excite the astonishment and envy of Wordsworth if he were here to witness it. I have even gone beyond the Quaker principle of bearing injuries meekly.
I have written to thank the inflictor. Happily it is in prose, and the Chevalier has intended to be faithful, and has, I believe, actually abstained from any interpolations. But did you ever hear me mention a fact worthy of notice, which I observed myself,—that wherever a breed of peacocks is spoiled by mixture with a white one, birds that escape the degeneracy in every other part of their plumage show it in the eye of the feather? the fact is very curious; where the perfection of nature’s work is required there it fails. This affords an excellent illustration for the version now before me; every where the eye of the feather is defective. It would be impossible more fully to exemplify how completely a man may understand the general meaning of a passage, and totally miss its peculiar force and character. The name of
M. Bedford appears in the Notice, with the error that he was one of my College friends, and the fact that Joan of Arc was written at his house. The dedication to him is omitted.

“God bless you!

R. S.

“What a grand bespattering of abuse I shall have when the Vision appears! Your walk at the Proclamation was but a type of it,—only that I am booted and coated, and of more convenient stature for the service. Pelt away my boys, pelt away! if you were not busy at that work you would be about something more mischievous. Abusing me is like flogging a whipping-post. Harry says I have had so much of it that he really thinks I begin to like it. This is
certain, that nothing vexes me except injudicious and exaggerated praise, e.g. when my French friends affirm that
Roderic is acknowledged to be a better poem than the Paradise Lost!!”