919. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 March 1804

919. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 31 March 1804 ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

You suffered my letter to remain so long unanswered that the plan which it proposes must of necessity for awhile remain unexecuted. I am bound for London, chiefly to complete these Specimens [1]  & put them to press. the time for my absence must be during Ediths confinement [2]  – & that is now so near that I may possibly be departing within a week or ten days. Had Horace arrived a fortnight ago – I could have delayed my journey two or three weeks – as time now stands the plan must be that I should talk to him of the Lakes, & ask him down – viva-voce. For him this will be so far pleasanter as he will find more society at Keswick. my brother Harry will be here in May, hot from Edinburgh, with as much knowledge in his head as a head only twenty years old can contain. Alas for your unhappy habit of procrastination! ‘Dont delay’ you write in your postscript – & this in answer to a letter which had lain above a fortnight in your desk! here it happens to be of no moment, but you tell me the habit has produced & is producing worse consequences. I would give you advice if it could be of use, but there is no curing those who chuse to be diseased. A good man & a wise man may at times be angry with the world, at times grieved for it. but be sure no man was ever discontented with the world – if he did his duty in it. If a man of education who has health, eyes, hands, & leisure – wants an object – it is only because God almighty has bestowed all those blessings upon one who does not deserve them. Dear Grosvenor I wish you may feel half the pain in reading this that I do in writing it – for it may serve as an answer to all the letters you have written me for some years past.

There! –

And what shall I say after this? for this bitter pill will put your mouth out of taste for whatever insipidities I might have had to offer. only the metaphor reminds me of a scheme of mine – which is to xxxxxx <improve> cookery by chemical tuning. making every dish prepare for the palate for that which is to come next – & this reminds me that I have discovered most poignant & good galvanism in drinking water out of an iron cup. how far this may improve fermented liquor remains to be experimented. the next time you see a pump with an iron ladle thereunto appended, stop. tho it be on Cornhill [3]  & drink & try.

I am very happy, having this week received the oldest poem in the Castilian language, [4]  – the oldest code of Gothic laws, [5] 

& a reinforcement of folios besides, containing the history of Portugal from the Creation down to 1400 AD.

God bless you.

yrs very affectionately


Saturday. March 31. 1804.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Gerard Street/ Soho/ London/ Single
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK
Postmark: E/ APR 3/ 1804
Endorsement: 31 March 1804
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 279–280 [in part]. BACK

[1] With Bedford’s help, Southey was compiling materials for an anthology entitled Specimens of the Later English Poets, which owing to Bedford’s inefficiency, was not in the end published until 1807. BACK

[2] The Southeys’ second child, Edith May, was born on 30 April 1804. BACK

[3] A busy street in the City of London at one end of which was located the outlet of the first mechanically pumped public water supply, constructed in 1582, and driven by a water wheel under London Bridge which pumped water from the less than pure river Thames. BACK

[4] Southey owned several works in which the story of the Cid is given. No. 3344 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (c. 1043–1099), Chronica de la Famoso Cavallero Cid Ruy Diez Campeador (1593); no. 3338 was Alfonso X of Castile (1221–1284; King of Castile 1252–1284), Chronica de Espana (1541); no. 3449 was Romancero e Historia del Cid Ruy Diez de Bivar en Language Antiguo, Recopilados por Juan de Escobar (1632). Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid, was published by Longman in 1808. BACK

[5] No. 3463 of the sale catalogue of Southey’s library was J. A. Llorente (dates unknown), Leyes del Fuero-Juzgo ó Recopilacion de las Leyes de los Wisi-Godos Españoles (1792). BACK

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