3002. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 June 1817

3002. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 June 1817⁠* 

15. June. 1817. Milan

My dear G.

Even a few lines will be welcome from a far land. We arrived here yesterday, & depart tomorrow, turning our faces homeward. We go to Como, where I expect to find Landor, – a greater pleasure could hardly be in expectation. About this day week we hope to have recrost the Alps, & to be on the way to or from Chamouny, starting for that place from Martigny. Then we make again for the Chateau de Echichens, where Mr Awdry (my Uncles brother in law) [1]  is residing, & where I feel among relations & friends. Owing to the unusual lateness of the season we were too early for Switzerland, & they who advised me to cross by S Gothard [2]  forgot to add it would be necessary to take a carriage to pieces. This has sent us by a very circuitous route, at much cost of time, but gain of scenery, for having entered Switzerland from Besançon we went by Lausanne & Geneva to Chamberry, gave two days to the Chartreuse, [3]  & crost by M Cenis [4]  to Turin. – I send a box from hence to Prince Esterhazy, [5]  & tho every possible care will be taken to advise M. R [6]  what is his name of it, it may be as well that you should mention it to Herries.

Every thing has gone well with us. I have kept up with my journal – by great exertion, & when I return shall be glad, & with good reason, that I had resolution to make the journey – my sprits are the best in the world for my companions, [7]  – for myself, they were better at home, & will be better when I am at home again: then I shall probably feel benefit from the journey.

I sent a small parcel of books from Paris addressed to Longman, – it was not large enough to justify me in troubling Herries friend. From Frankfort perhaps, certainly from Brussels, I shall dispatch a larger cargo. I wrote home from Calais, Paris, Neufchatel & Turin. I wish you would write to Keswick & say so, adding that you have heard from Milan, & that we were all well. It is Sunday evening, Nash & Senhouse are gone to the Opera, [8]  – there is what in England would be called a Sixpenny hop going on under my feet, – & I remain, xxxxx to bring up my journal, & scrawl this, hasty letter to you, to the fiddle & the clamour below.

You will wish to ask a hundred questions, – & you will see how impossible it is that I should answer them. I can only tell you that Skiddaw fairly stands a comparison with the Alps which I have seen, & that he will outlast those which we have crost. I fear it must be five weeks before we reach England, let me find a letter at the Dover post office with 20 £. I shall draw on Longman either from Frankfort (if Herries letter should obtain me credit there) or at Brussels, where I am known & have it.

The weather has been tremendously hot since we left Switzerland. Summer began on the 1 June, – & my summer cold with it – except as far the nose is concerned I am in good health, but as for the tincture of the skin both Senhouse & myself might pass for Moors. – Mackenzie was more than civil to me at Paris, [9]  – he was in a high degree attentive & obliging.

Tell the Mag: Rot., that at Geneva I ate seven rolls for breakfast. In that proportion the Wolf has eaten & drank ever since he landed on the continent.

Oh that I could hear all was well at home & in Q Anne Street. I have thought sometimes too of your Carb Uncle – Your health in a glass of lemonade, – with which I have splashed the letter.

God bless you



* Address: Inghilterra/ To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9 Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Postmarks: FPO/ JY 1/ 1817; 12 o’Clock/ JY 1/ 1817 Nn
Endorsement: 15 June 1817. Milan.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Awdry (1766–1844), solicitor in Reybridge and husband of Jane, née Bigg-Wither (1770–1845), sister of Herbert Hill’s wife, Catherine. BACK

[2] The St Gotthard Pass connects the northern, German-speaking area of Switzerland with the southern, Italian-speaking part, and opens the route to Italy. BACK

[3] Head monastery of the Carthusian order, founded 1084; located high in an Alpine valley north of Grenoble. BACK

[4] A mountain pass between France and Italy. BACK

[5] Prince Pál Antal Esterházy de Galántha (1786–1866), Austrian nobleman and Ambassador to Britain 1815–1842. BACK

[6] Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836; DNB), London banker and founder of N. M. Rothschild & Sons in 1811. BACK

[7] Humphrey Senhouse and Edward Nash. BACK

[8] La Scala opera house in Milan. BACK

[9] Colin Alexander Mackenzie (?1778–1851), a wealthy Scot who was employed on a number of delicate diplomatic missions and may well have been a government spy. In 1815 he was appointed one of the Commissioners of Liquidation, Arbitration and Deposit, who adjudicated on claims by British citizens for loss of property against the French government. Southey dined with him on 17 May 1817. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Skiddaw (mentioned 1 time)