3054. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 December 1817

3054. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 22 December 1817⁠* 

Pessime! [1] 

I have been in a cold sweat whenever I thought of my books from Milan ever since you returned to London, – – & behold Nash had not been in town four & twenty hours before he discovered that they were arrived. Pessime! Vile Bedford! Wicked Bedford! Abominable Bedford!

The box it seems came with one for Colnaghi, [2]  & has been taken charge of by Prince Esterhazys [3]  agent, whoever this may be. but Colnaghi was obliged to deposit 20£ as security to enable him to get it away. The rationale of this you will find out; & now I beseech you get the box lodged for me at Longmans as soon as possible.

When it is there Nash will take out his concerns which are one or two prints, a Life of Leonardo da Vinci [4]  & a Milan Guide. Certain books must be taken out & bound for me, according to a list which I will make out on the other leaf, & I shall be obliged to Longman to forward to me all the rest by waggon without delay, there being some among them which will come into immediate use. – You may direct the manner of binding those in the list, – they should be exceedingly well done, so as to mark them for things of value when they come to be xx books of the late R.S. The three Italians who are to be put in one dress are the three best poets whom Italy has produced during the last two centuries. [5] 

There are books in this box which will enable me to make my journal [6]  what I should <wish> to make to xxx it.

There is one Spanish volume in foolscap quarto entitled Milicia de las Indias. [7]  If you are present when the box is opened, be pleased upon seeing this book, to go upon your knees, & make your prostrations before it, as if it were the veritable Emperor of China, that said book being of more intrinsic worth than all Emperors of China past, present, or to come collectively. There is one volume with 100 Swiss views – bad enough, but still good for recollection. [8]  And there are about 53 loose prints of Italian scenery upon the Lakes, & of the Cathedral of Milan.

Oh how glad I am they are come. – Now pray lose no time in settling matters with Colnaghi, & getting them to Longmans, that they may be dispatched for Keswick quam citissime. [9]  It is more than an even chance that Bertolacci [10]  may set me upon a Rabbinical poem as long as Thalaba. [11] 

It is very likely the books from Brussels may be come also, [12]  pray enquire about them: – these must wait in London till the season be safer for water conveyance, when Mr Vardon will give them a passage to Newcastle.

God bless you


22 Dec. 1817.

Ramusio. 3 folio. to be well bound in Russia. [13] 

<Maggi – 4 vol. 12 mo

<Chiabrera – 5 – Do

<Filicaja 2 – Do – uniform & very neat

Pietro della Valle. 3 vol 12mo. very neat. [14] 

Africa Petrarche – Do [15] 

Ruggiero in Sicilia – Do [16] 


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 25 DE 25/ 1817
Endorsements: 22. Dec 1817; 22. Dec 1817/ Recd 25 Dec.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘O bad’. BACK

[2] The firm of print-sellers and art dealers at Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, headed by Paul Colnaghi (1751–1833; DNB). It was handling the passage through London of the consignment of books that Southey had purchased in Milan. BACK

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

[4] Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Italian painter and inventor. BACK

[5] As the list at the end of this letter indicates, these volumes were Carlo Maria Maggi (1630–1699), Rime Varie Di Carlo Maria Maggi, Sacre, Morali, Eroiche, Raccolte de Lodovic Antonio Muratori (1700), no. 3072 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; Gabriello Chiabrera (1552–1638), Opere (1782), no. 585 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; Vincenzo de Filicaja (1642–1707), Opere (1804), no. 1033 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] The journal Southey had kept of his continental tour in May–August 1817. BACK

[7] Bernardo de Vargas Machuca (1557–1622), Milicia y Descripción de las Indias (1599), no. 3758 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Possibly Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672–1733), Itinera per Helvetiae Alpinas Regiones (1723), no. 2595 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] ‘As quickly as possible’. BACK

[10] Giulio Bartolocci (1613–1687), Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinica de Scriptoribus et Scriptus Hebraicis (1675–1694), no. 236 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Southey’s Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[12] Books Southey had bought on his continental tour in Brussels 1817. BACK

[13] Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485–1557), Navigationi e Viaggi (1556–1588), no. 2382 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[14] The one volume edition of Pietro della Valle (1586–1652), Voyages dans Le Turquie, L’Egypt, Les Indes (1658–1663), published in Venice in 1667, no. 2931 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[15] Francesco Petrarch (1304–1374), Bucolica, Africa, Epistolae (1558), no. 2225 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[16] Mario Reitani Spatafora (1662–1714), Il Rogiero in Sicilia Poema Heroico (1698), no. 2716 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

People mentioned

Nash, Edward (1778–1821) (mentioned 2 times)
Vardon, Thomas (dates unknown) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)