2312. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 October [1813]

2312. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 October [1813] ⁠* 

Saturday. Oct 16. Streatham

My dear Grosvenor

I move into town pro bono  [1]  on Monday, & out of it pro meliore, [2]  as soon as possible afterwards. What with the bust, [3]  & with the dinners which I have to perform, a fortnight will be expended; & if by that time the affair of the Laureateship is not concluded – I shall show my respect for the office by leaving the Lord Marquis-Chamberlain to look out for some xxx object of his high patronage <some body> who will wait his pleasure with more patience. Lord Wm Gordon [4]  told me I might expect every day to receive notice of the appointment; but his part in the drama of patronage is ended, & I plainly see that he knows nothing about what is to be done, or who is to do it: & Croker if I could see him, probably knows as little. However I will make another attempt at the Admiralty on Monday.

Of course I am to meet you at Herries’s on Tuesday but where is Cadogan Place?

I am out of humour, or out of spirits, or both, at finding myself no longer <instead of being> master of my <own> movements depend upon – ant upon the silly & impertinent delays of a great man in office.

I bought Van Helmonts [5]  works the other day, for the love of odd things, & for the use of Doctor Daniel Dove. [6]  One of his treatises is entitled Butler.

Perhaps, if the weather be willing, I may look find my way to your breakfast-table on Monday. – Thursday & Friday I am engaged, – & to let for the rest of the week. Sunday I go to Richmond & return on Tuesday, & for Monday Oct 31. or the following day, it is my present intention to take a place in the Worcester mail. Between ourselves I am as homesick as a <school boy, or a> Swiss, [7]  & shall not be suffer under this mountaineer malady till I pa am quietly packed up in the corner of the coach which is to carry me toward the mountains.

God bless you



* MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 2p.
Endorsement: 1813
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘For the public good’; Southey was sworn in as Poet Laureate and presented at Court during his stay in London. BACK

[2] ‘For better’. BACK

[3] Southey was sitting for a bust sculpted by James Smith (1775–1815). BACK

[4] Lord William Gordon (1744–1823), son of Cosmo George Gordon, 3rd Duke of Gordon (1720–1752). He owned the Waterend estate on the west side of Derwentwater. BACK

[5] The Flemish chemist, physiologist and physician, Jan Baptist Van Helmont (bap. 1579, d. 1644), a pioneer of pneumatic chemistry, he combined interests in new learning and experimentation with a love of Paracelus and alchemy. ‘Butler’ was the title of the thirteenth chapter of his ‘Tractatus De Morbis’, a fact that would interest Bedford because he and Southey had invented a comical epic hero called ‘the Butler’. Southey owned a 1664 edition of Van Helmont’s Workes, no. 2896 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[6] The hero of Southey’s The Doctor (1834–1847). BACK

[7] The idea of homesickness (nostalgia) as a peculiarly Swiss illness was explored by Johannes Hofer (1669–1752) in his Dissertatio medica de nostalgia, oder Heimehe (1688), which tried to develop a scientific theory to explain the symptoms suffered by Swiss mercenaries serving abroad. BACK

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 1 time)