1216. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before, and continued on] 17 September 1806

1216. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before, and continued on] 17 September 1806 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

That the way of life is full of disappointments we have all us found to our cost, – hope however I will in spite of this knowledge & in spite of your lumbago, or whatever it be which has laid you on your back, that you & I shall yet Butlerize [1]  & drink grog out of my Indian rubber borracha  [2]  upon the top of Skiddaw, before the old gentleman has put on his white perriwig for the winter. I made an ascension about ten days ago when my brother Tom paid his first & the doctor his last visit, leaving his name on one of the stones with P.P.C. I however promised to mount again, – having already been up six times, & meaning to have you for my companion on the seventh.

I daily expect the needful account of Churchey – my Preface hangs upon hand, – but in hand it is. [3] 

The measles have ‘run their raging race’ [4]  & are fairly out of the house – so the Edithling has got safely by one of those perilous passes which are to are to be found in the course of life, just as they are in the Royal Game of Goose. [5]  If the next great family event were as well over [6]  I should settle more comfortably to work by day, & to sleep at night. I wish the winter & spring had past away & that I were quietly settled at Lisbon, [7]  – for to tell you the truth I have some reason to think that if business & choice did not lead me there, necessity would drive me. My lungs are become very susceptible of cold, which they never were till lately, – I have an habitual expectoration to a troublesome degree, & tho assuredly at present I am not ill, yet xxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx to be so the train for illness seems to be laid. My intention is to remove in the spring, xx if I feel myself diseased in the winter (which is not the trying season) I must run for it without delay. A few years in a better climate where I shall sit less at my desk, & live more in the open air are of more consequence to me, than any one can easily believe who has never felt the effects of a genial atmosphere.

Ask Elmsley to send me the life of D. Luisa Carvajal [8]  when Wynn is in the way to frank it. I want to shorten it into shape for Longmans new magazine, [9]  in which I mean to turn as many of my papers to account as possible. When you & I come to prose at evening over this fire side, it will surprise you perhaps to see how many things I have in hand at once, & yet I get on better than by only doing one at a time. Still many of these things are what I would not do if I xxx xxx could help it. This magazine – or Athenæum, as they chuse to call it (I hate such xxxxxxx Fool-æum titles) – may perhaps expedite a plan which you advised & to which I leant, a half & half sort of ear – that of putting forth a volume of translations from the Spanish & Portugueze. I have enough for half a volume done, & as Artaxerxes [10]  & Dr Aikin want poetry for their numbers I may be induced to commit more translations for the sake of being paid for them twice over.

Bring down with you when you come those volumes upon the lives of the Saints [11]  which were intended to you to be by you consigned to the some Hyde-biblial, that he might give them new jackets. [12] 

Wynn tells me he is in hopes of son or daughter in January. [13]  I was a little surprized at being told by Mrs Dickson [14]  that she hoped to see him Grand Parleur [15]  next parliament, for tho I knew this I conceived it was not to be talked about. perhaps she only did it to shew me that she knew all the family secrets. Fox’s death (I fear he is dead!) will throw every thing into the hands of the Grenvilles. [16]  I am grieved at his death, – sorry that he did not die before that wretched Pitt, [17]  that he might have been spared the disgrace of pronouncing a panegyric upon such a coxcombly <insolent> empty-headed long-winded braggadochio, – sorry that he ever came into power except upon his own terms, & still more sorry that he has not lived long enough to prove that his intentions were as good & upright, as in my soul I believe them to be <have been>. His party may go to the Devil if they will, without any xx any change that shall rid <us> of Lord Howick & Lord Henry Petty [18]  must be for the better.

Wednesday, Sept 17. 1806.

I have been setting doggedly at the Preface & have I suppose half done it – the sooner the better now – so I will keep to it obstinately & ship it off to you as soon as possible. When Wynn returns send me down a whole set of sheets that I may look them over & see what cancels are necessary – If you find it wearies you, before you are well recovered to correct the proofs, send them on to me – [19] 

Remember me at home Grosvenor – I wish I could hear your father was getting better. I have had a book given me with a portrait of Athenian Stuart [20]  as a vignette in the title page which has much of your fathers likeness

God bless you.



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] 1806
Endorsements: Sept. <5> 1806; Sept <7> 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 391–394. BACK

[1] A reference to Southey’s and Bedford’s comic inventions, originating in schoolboy stories at Westminster. BACK

[2] Spanish/Portuguese: a leather/rubber bag or bottle for wine. BACK

[3] Southey is discussing his and Bedford’s jointly edited anthology, Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). Walter Churchey (1747–1805; DNB), a Welsh poet who published Poems and Imitations of the British Poets in 1789, is not included in Specimens of the Later English Poets. Southey had written to Joseph Cottle for information on Churchey; see Southey to Joseph Cottle, 11 August 1806, Letter 1210. BACK

[4] ‘The Son of Wrath, whose ruthless hand / Hurl’d Desolation o’er the land, / Has run his raging race, has clos’d the scene of blood.’ William Mason, ‘Ode VI. On the Fate of Tyranny’, in Poems (Dublin, 1764), pp. 32–36, ll. 4–6. BACK

[5] A children’s board game, in which a dice is thrown and the players move gradually towards the centre, overcoming various obstacles along the way. BACK

[6] Herbert, the Southeys’ first son, was born 11 October 1806. BACK

[7] Southey did not visit Lisbon again. BACK

[8] Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza (1568–1614) was a Spanish missionary who devoted herself to the cause of the Catholic faith in England during the reign of James VI and I (1566–1625, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland 1603–1625; DNB). An account of her life was written by Luis Muñoz (d.1646) as La Vida y Virtues de la Venerable Virgin Dona Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza in 1632, and was summarised by Southey in the third edition of his Letters from Spain and Portugal (1808). BACK

[9] The short-lived Athenaeum, A Magazine of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (1807–1809). Southey’s article ‘The Life of Dona Luisa de Carvajal’ was published in 1 (1807), 270–277, 391–399 and 495–500. BACK

[10] Southey’s nickname for Longman; the Persian emperor Artaxerxes I (d. 424 BC) being known in Latin as Longimanus. BACK

[11] The sale catalogue of Southey’s library records his ownership of several editions (part or whole) of the hagiographic series Acta Sanctorum Belgii Selecta, cum Commentariis ac Notis. BACK

[12] Hyde (first name and dates unknown) was a London tailor frequented by Southey. He is referring to the rebinding of books—with a pun on hide, or skin. BACK

[13] Wynn’s daughter was born in January 1807; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 18 January 1807, Letter 1262. BACK

[14] Untraced. BACK

[15] Southey means the Speaker of the House of Commons. BACK

[16] Charles James Fox, who died while in office as the Foreign Secretary on 13 September 1806. Fox had entered into a political agreement with the Grenville party, led by William Wyndham Grenville, which culminated in Grenville heading the government of the ‘Ministry of all the Talents’ as Prime Minister between 1806 and 1807. BACK

[17] William Pitt (1759–1806; DNB), Prime Minister 1783–1801, 1804–1806. He died on 23 January 1806. BACK

[18] Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, KG, PC (1764–1845; DNB), known as Lord Howick between 1806 and 1807, was Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834. Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (1780–1863), known as Lord Henry Petty, was the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1806–1807). BACK

[19] Southey is referring to Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) which was being prepared for the press. BACK

[20] The painter and architect James ‘Athenian’ Stuart (1713–1788; DNB), so named for his central role in pioneering the Neo-classical style of decoration and architecture. BACK

Places mentioned

Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)