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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 21 April 1807

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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“April 21. 1807.

“Whether, Grosvenor, you will ascribe it to the cut of my nose, I cannot tell; nor whether it be a proof of the natural wickedness of the heart, but so it is, that I am less disposed to be very much obliged to the Treasury for giving me 200l. a year, than I am to swear at the Taxes for having the impudence to take 56l. of it back again. And if it were a pull Devil pull Baker between that loyalty which, as you know, has always been so predominant in my heart, and that jacobinism of which, you know how vilely, I have been suspected, I am afraid the 56 would give a stronger pull on the Baker’s side than the 144 on the Devil’s. Look you, Mr. Bedford of the Exchequer, it is out of all conscience. Ten in the hundred has always in all Christian states been thought damnable usury; and to say that a man took ten in the hundred was the same as saying that he would go to the Devil.* But this is eight-and-twenty in the

* So says the epigram attributed to Shakspeare, upon his friend Mr. Combe, an old gentleman noted for his wealth and usury:—

hundred, for which may eight-and-twenty hundred Devils . . . . . I am a little surprised to hear you speak so contemptuously of modern poetry, because it shows how very little you must have read, or how little you can have considered the subject. The improvement during the present reign has been to the full as great in poetry as it has been in the experimental sciences, or in the art of raising money by taxation. What can you have been thinking of? Had you forgotten
Burns a second time? had you forgotten Cowper, Bowles, Montgomery, Joanna Baillie, Walter Scott? to omit a host of names which, though inferior to them, are above those of any former period except the age of Shakspeare, and not to mention Wordsworth and another poet, who has written two very pretty poems in my opinion, called Thalaba and Madoc. . . . . I am as busy in my household arrangements as you can be. My tent is pitched at last, and I am thankful that my lot has fallen in so goodly a land.

“Politics are very amusing, and go to the tune of Tantara-rara. The king has been fighting for a veto upon the initiation of laws, and he has won it. I had got into good humour with the late ministry because of the Limited Service Bill, the Abolishment

“Ten in the hundred lies here ingraved;
’Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not saved.
If any man ask, ‘Who lies in this tomb?’
‘Oh! oh!’ quoth the Devil,’ ’tis my John-a-Combe.’”

It must be added that Mr. Knight strenuously opposes the tradition that Shakspeare wrote these lines.—Knight’s Shakspeare, a Biography, p. 488.

of the Slave Trade, and their wise conduct with regard to the Continent. As for their successors, they have given a pretty sample of their contempt for all decency by their reinstatement of
Lord Melville, the attempt at giving Percival the place for life, and the threat held out by Canning of a dissolution. The Grenvilles now find the error of their neglecting Scotland at the last election, an error which I heard noticed with regret at the time. What is it has made them so unpopular in the city? It is to me incomprehensible why the memory of Pitt should be held in such idolatrous reverence,—a man who was as obstinate in every thing wrong as he was ready to give up any thing good, and who, except in the Union and in the Scarcity, was never by any accident right during his long administration.

“I finish poor Henry White’s papers to-morrow. One volume of Palmerin still remains to do, and then there will be nothing to impede my progress in S. America. Our Fathers wrote to me about the same time that you did; they were then in pursuit of the culprits Hinchcliffe and Gildon. I’ll tell you what I would have done had I been in town and could not have found them. I would have made them a present of verses of my own, just enough in number to fill the gap, and dull enough to suit them. Nobody would have suspected it, and it would have been a very pious fraud to save trouble.

“It consoles me a little when I think of the reviewing* that is to take place: how much more you

* Of the Specimens of English Poets.

will feel it than I shall. I am case-hardened—but you—oh,
Mr. Bedford, how your back and shoulders will tingle! how you will perspire! how you will bite your nails and gnash your teeth! how you will curse the reviewers, and the printers, and the poor poets, with now and then a remembrance of me and yourself. Why, man, there never was so bad a book before! If I were to take any twenty pages and enumerate all the faults in them,—do you remember Duppa, when he came from the Installation at Oxford, all piping hot? even to that degree of heat would the bare enumeration excite you, and your shirt would be as wet as if you had tumbled into a bath. I tell you my opinion as a friend just to prepare you for what is to come, and am actually laughing at the conceit of how you will look when you take up the first review! Farewell!

R. S.”