135. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 1 October 1795]

135. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 1 October 1795] ⁠* 

A good phrase of Sir P Sidneys for looking foolish. he lookd like an Ape that had newly taken a purgation. [1] 

Grosvenor why is the house in which I sleep at Bristol like your one horse chair? after you have spent half an hour in vainly guessing look in the left hand corner of the bottom of the third page of this sheet for an explanation

has Harry written me those notes yet? any drawing would be useless. the sooner I have them now the better as the eighth book will be printed this week & for that they are wanted.

where is Wynn now?

And this is all I have to say. Time will fill the sheet — if I can spare time.


Tuesday morning.

I have received a very handsome letter from Ld Carysfort including some criticisms on the Retrospect. [2]  the most unpleasant part of the story is — that I must thank him for it. I am a bad hand at a set letter.

Would I were settled. I wish much to see you for you have much to tell me. not a word in your last letter of ——— perhaps I may be xxxx in London very soon. If my Uncles answer be as I wish — you & I shall spend many a winters evening together Grosvenor. if not — here I remain for where the carcass is there will the Eagles be gathered together. [3]  a very pretty quotation to express my dwelling where my Edith is.

my poems go not to the press till January. so much the better. in the mean time consider whether you will be Damon or Strephon or Alexis or Colin or Sylvio or Corydon — in your birth day ode your name is often introduced & you shall dub yourself what you please for the vacancy. that I forgot you this year — forgive me — my excuse must be much business in almost rewriting Joan — a mind sufficiently agitated — & of late more so by suspense. Coleridge too has behaved wickedly towards me — of this I will tell you the particulars when we meet. altogether my xxxx mind has been upon the continual stretch.

Grosvenor I am made of excellent stuff. my heart is as warm as ever — & my head a little cooler. my spirits are unbroken — the prospect fair before me. — xxx how happy I shall be if I can live within a mile of Brixton! Grosvenor you knew my college breakfast cups. then for Utopianizing over our breakfast!

When does your Quaker [4]  come? let me know his direction — & apprize him of my intended call. draw upon me for all offices of civility & friendship.

With Carlisle I must be better acquainted.

I will translate those lines for you, you Turk! they are not easy. if you have any ideas for a battle or a coronation send them me.

JOAN of ARC will be out in seven weeks from this present writing. you will not know your old acquaintance — so totally is she altered. [5] 

Of Citoyenne Rolands appeal [6]  I have read the first <par> only. at present the politics of France puzzle me — there is little ability at the head of affairs — Louvet [7]  may mean well — but the decree of 5th Fructidor [8]  is an oppressive one. Lanjuinais [9]  is almost the only man of whom I entertain a tolerable opinion. of all possible villains what think you of Barrere? [10]  have you read Helen Williams’ letters [11]  & Louvet account of his escape? [12] 

remember me to all your friends. tell Horace I am in the land of the living — & that if he would by letter give me the same information I would win an hour to write to him.

God bless you.

Robert Southey.


* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster./ Single
Stamped: BATH
Postmarks: COC/ 1/ 95
Watermarks: COLES/ 1794
Endorsement: Recd. Octr. 1st/ 1795
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22 [address leaf]; Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 27 [main text of letter]. ALS; 3p. (c. 22 1p; c. 27 2p).
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 100–102 [where it is dated [October 1795]]. BACK

[1] Sir Philip Sidney (1554–86; DNB), The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (1590), Book 2, chapter 13. BACK

[2] Southey’s ‘The Retrospect’ had been published in his and Robert Lovell’s Poems (1795). A copy of Carysfort’s critique is in the National Library of Wales, MS 4819E. BACK

[3] A paraphrase of Matthew 24: 28. BACK

[4] Unidentified. BACK

[5] Southey had written a first draft of Joan of Arc whilst staying with the Bedfords in 1793 and substantially revised the poem since then. BACK

[6] Jeanne Marie Roland de la Platiere (1754–1793), Appel a L’Impartiale Postérité (1795). An English translation was published by Joseph Johnson in the same year. BACK

[7] Jean-Baptiste Louvet de Courvrai (1760–1797), novelist, playwright and politician, he was a former Girondist and prominent figure in the Convention (1794–1795). BACK

[8] The decree of 5th Fructidor (22 August 1795) ruled that in the forthcoming French elections, two-thirds of the existing Convention would be re-elected. BACK

[9] Jean Denis, Comte de Lanjuinais (1753–1827), a lawyer and architect of the French Constitution of Year III (1795). BACK

[10] Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac (1755–1841), a Jacobin and member of the Committee of Public Safety (1793–1794), was a key figure in the downfall of Robespierre. BACK

[11] Helen Maria Williams, Letters from France, was published in eight parts between 1791–1796. Robert Lovell had borrowed the fourth volume of Letters from the Bristol Library Society between 13–15 August 1794. BACK

[12] Quelques Notices Pour L’Histoire et le Récit de mes Perils Depuis le 31 Mai 1793 (1795) detailed Louvet’s time in hiding during the Terror, 1793–1794. BACK

Places mentioned