2775. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 30 April 1816

2775. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 30 April 1816⁠* 

30 April. 1816.

My dear Grosvenor

Time passes on, – I employ myself, & have recovered strength, – but in point of spirits I rather lose ground. The cause perhaps is obvious, [1]  – at first we make great efforts to force the mind from thoughts which are intolerably painful; – but as from time they become endurable, less effort is made to avoid them, & the poignancy of grief settles into melancholy. Both with Edith & myself this seems to be the case. Certain I am that nothing but the fixed & full assurance of immortality could prevent me from sinking under an affliction which is greater than any stranger could possibly believe; – & thankful I am that my feelings have been so long & so habitually directed toward this point. You probably know my poems better than most people, & may recollect perceive how strongly my mind has been impressed upon this most consoling subject

Yesterday I finished the main part of the Lay, – there remains only six or eight stanzas as a L’Envoy, which I may perhaps compleat this night – then I shall send you the whole in one packet thro Gifford. [2]  I have said nothing about it to Longman, – for I think it very probable that you may advise me not to publish the poem now it is written, lest it should give offence; & having satisfied myself by writing it, it is quite xxxx indifferent to me whether it appears now, or after my decease. The emolument is to be derived from it is too insignificant to be thought of, – & the credit which I should gain (assuredly it would be great credit) I can very well do without. So take counsel with any body you please, & remember that I who am easily enough persuaded in any case, am in this perfectly unconcerned. For were it a thing of course that I should produce a poem on this occasion, – there is at this time, God knows, sufficient reason why I might stand excused.

Do not imagine that the poem has derived the slightest cast of colouring from my present state of mind. The plan is precisely what was originally formed. William Nicol [3]  is likely to judge as well as any man whether there be any unfitness in publishing it. You are quite aware that I neither wish to court favour, nor to give offence, – & that the absurdity of taking offence would (if it were taken) would excite in me more pity than resentment. – I do not want Crokers opinion, the strain of language, & of thought are alike out of his way

Good night. I am going to this poem in hope of compleating it. I cannot yet bear to be unemployed, – & this I feel severely. You know how much I used to unbend, & play with the children, in frequent intervals of study, – as tho I were an idle man. Of this I am quite incapable, & shall long continue so. No circumstance of my former life ever brought with it so great a change, as that which I daily & hourly feel, – & perhaps shall never cease to feel. Yet I am thankful for having possessed this child so long, – for worlds I would not but have been his father, – of all the blessings which it has pleased God <to> vouchsafed <me>, this was & is the greatest.



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 3 MY 3/ 1816
Endorsement: 30 April 1816/ Recd. 3 May
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 173–175. BACK

[1] Southey’s son Herbert had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

[2] The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816) was a wedding gift celebrating the marriage of Princess Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent, to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1790–1865; King of the Belgians 1831–1865) on 2 May 1816. The ‘Epilogue’ contained 13 stanzas, the last of which was entitled ‘L’Envoy’. BACK

[3] William Nicol (d. 1855?) was the son and business partner of George Nicol (1740?–1828; DNB), who was Bookseller to the King, 1781–1820. William Nicol also held a minor Court appointment as Assistant Paymaster in the Lord Steward’s office. BACK

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