3193. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 September 1818

3193. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 September 1818⁠* 

Your health Grosvenor! in a glass of gin at eleven o clock in the morning. Now & then this body of mine gets strangely out of order, – the pulse flags so that it is scarcely perceptible, & I am led to discover it by a general feeling of languor, & the excessive activity of the kidneys. The remedy is a glass of ghosts as the Dutch call it. The cause is beyond my knowledge. But for several years I have been used to this occasional ailment, & it xxxx brings with it little inconvenience & no anxiety. I am very thankful that the circumstances of my life were not such as encouraged would have encouraged me to foster a nervous disposition, which would probably have been the case had I been born to affluence, or if my moral nature first at the critical point of time had been not been well braced with a true tonic philosophy. Otherwise I might have been as pitiable an object as poor Lloyd, – who has been in Keswick this fortnight & luxuriates in detailing to me the whole rise, progress & symptoms of his insanity, – which I cannot but suspect exists almost as much in a diseased will as in a disordered imagination. It is very distressing to be with him sometimes, & very wearying at others; – a great expence of time & of spirits, neither of which I can well afford, – & yet I would gladly afford him more of both, if there were a reasonable prospect of affording him any thing more than xx temporary amusement rather than benefit.

Chauncey Townsend is coming to visit me next week, which his father (a fierce Burdettite [1] ) refused to let him do last year, & was in a paroxysm of rage when it was proposed. Either time has cooled him now, or Chauncey has been more successful in xx watching the mollia tempora fandi. [2]  I shall be glad of his company, & perhaps the better for the course of mountaineering in which it will engage me. While you in the South have been parched up our summer has been truly genial, – the finest that old people can remember, with just rain enough, & not more. Now indeed the weather is unsettled & Monday was a soaking days rain. I look sadly forward to the consequences of the dearth which must ensue in London, & every where south of the Trent.

Pray dispatch the MSS that comes herewith to Longman. [3]  The sketch of our religious history which it contains [4]  has cost me more time than you would suppose. – The subject will be compleated in another chapter upon the means & causes of Wesleys success, – but this must not follow immediately, – I shall reserve it as a relief to be introduced where it is most wanted the narrative flags in interest, or has been long continued in one strain. In the present chapter some things are touched upon which I have occasionally treated in the QR. [5]  & it would have been better if I had taken parts from the QR & embodied them here, but to this there were certain valid objections. In the first term I publish this work with the Long Man & not the Great Man; – in the next place it would be a direct acknowledgement xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx robbing those papers, some of which I think may one day, with xxxx advantage to my xxxxxxx inheritor, be printed among the Miscellaneous Opera of RS, – & with some credit to himself, & some advantage to his representatives.

You have let the summer go by without coming to the Lakes, & I could find in my heart to abuse you for this sin of omission. I wish you had been here at the arrival of the Saints, – such a magnificent set of folios never I believe entered Cumberland before, or stood on the shelves of so poor a man. [6]  I am looking thro them to get a general view of their contents, & then I shall go thro the English & Irish lives chronologically, to the great enrichment of my historical collections. This set of books I think might afford me amusement for the rest of my life.

God bless you


16 Sept. 1818.


* Endorsements: 16 Sept 1818; 16 Sept 1818
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Henry Hare Townsend (1765–1827), wealthy landowner and radical. BACK

[2] ‘Times favourable for speaking’. BACK

[3] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820). BACK

[4] Chapter 9 of The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism, 2 vols (London, 1820), I, pp. 305–336. BACK

[5] The Quarterly Review. BACK

[6] The Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), no. 207 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, was a massive compendium of hagiographies. It had arrived in the consignment of books that Southey had bought in Brussels in 1817. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)