3549. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 6 November 1820

3549. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 6 November 1820⁠* 

Keswick. 6. Nov. 1820

My dear G.

Your letters have troubled me; – & I should have replied to the first of them without delay, if I had not expected to receive the half notes – which I now acknowledge & thank you for.

If it were at a better season of the year, I should press you to make for yourself as long a vacation as you could, & set off forthwith for Keswick, where I would answer for putting you in good condition. But in the month of November, when the paths are strewn with the fallen leaves, the roads ancle-deep in mire, & the glass oscilating between Rain & Much Rain, & only getting up to Change, for the sake of verifying its accuracy by falling back again, – this prescription is not applicable. Make up your mind however, & your arrangements, – to come with the Cuckoo, [1]  – or before him; & you will derive immediate benefit from such a resolution. No little part of the happiness of this world consists in expectation.

My dear Grosvenor I am noways inclined to condemn you, as you seem to imagine, – nor like the shoemaker whom we went to see in Richters picture, to persuade you that the shoe fits, when you feel that it pinches. [2]  – Only let me say, that I should be as glad as you could be to find myself in possession of a good independent fortune: – & that we poor Lacklands & Lackstocks who have to earn our livelihood, must endeavour to make the best of it. You are better off at this time than the King or his Prime Minister. – If I were in town I would give you as much of my time as you would accept, – that is, I would take my sneezes at the Exchequer at noon, & dine with you & Miss Page & the Master of the Rolls, as often as you would let me make the <a> fourth in your party. But as this cannot be, let me, I entreat you, converse as well as we can, at a distance, & do not imagine yourself unfit for correspondence, or suffer yourself to acquire a distaste for it. I have often, since my return from London, been vexed, as well as disappointed, at not hearing from you as usual. Your letters made up no small part of my enjoyments. You are my only frequent & constant correspondent. – The only person with whom correspondence has become a habit, – with whom I can be grave or nonsensical, to whom I can say quidlibet de quolibet, [3]  & make my lightest thoughts legible as they rise.

I have many things to tell you of my own occupations, & anticipations & concerns, when you are willing to hear them. At present it will suffice to say that we are all tolerably well, – & especially your godson, who calls himself Cupn, & puts my Aunt Mary in mind of what I was five & forty years ago. Nash who is on his way to town, has made an excellent portrait of him, a tolerable miniature of my Poetship, – & a double-miniature of Sara & Edith which you will be much pleased with. [4] 

God bless you. Write me a few lines, at least, with the remaining half notes, – & when you send the 100, let it be in 20s & 10s.

farewell – i.e – farebetter

yrs as ever



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ 9 NO/ 1820
Endorsement: 6 October November 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 211–213 [in part]. BACK

[1] In mid-April 1821, as the cuckoo traditionally arrives in Britain at this time. BACK

[2] Henry James Richter (1772–1857; DNB), The Tight Shoe, exhibited at the Society of Painters in Oil and Watercolours exhibition at Spring Garden in 1820, when Southey would have had the opportunity to view it during his stay in London in May–June 1820. The picture is currently in Northampton Museums and Art Gallery. BACK

[3] Subtle and elaborate points, especially on theological or academic subjects. BACK

[4] Nash’s paintings of Southey and of Edith May Southey and Sara Coleridge are now in the National Portrait Gallery. BACK

People mentioned

Nash, Edward (1778–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Bedford family (mentioned 1 time)
Coleridge, Sara (1802–1852) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Mary (1750–1838) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)