235. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 [- 17] July 1797

235. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 [– 17] July 1797 ⁠* 

Sunday. 16. July. 1797.

Your two letters, or rather letter & a half give me enough to answer, enough to think upon, & enough to be sorry for. for translating — I will let no opportunity slip of assisting you; that an opportunity may offer is possible, tho not to be expected as among probabilities, & moreover if you had finished one job you assuredly would never undertake another. Who Grosvenor but a hack horse would run a race with a London printer? needs must go when the Devil drives, dispatch is the condition, & it requires the whole days labour. I should certainly be very glad to get such a months employment as Neckers [1]  nonsense proved every year, but I certainly would not undertake two of them; it is an employment from which neither pleasure or credit can be derived, nothing but mere money. If I ever get another book to translate, you shall have half as a sample; they are windfalls to me, I cannot ask for them, but will gladly accept for you.

Pro lege [2]  — here I would gladly & instantly close with your first hint, were I not so bridled & curbed as to have no will of my own that way. Wynn does what he likes with me, & I am sure expects me to do great things, but he is much mistaken, I want only independance — I wish no more than I have at present & when I have as much independantly, I will not waste a single moment longer upon a study where I find neither pleasure nor improvement. God Almighty never made me for a Lord Chief Justice — I have not enough of the Chuckle Head about me. Sir John Comyns [3]  was the man.

You talk of being tantalized with scenes of matrimonial happiness. now Grosvenor tho I replied not to this when you mentioned it in conversation, I heard it & remembered it & reflected upon it with considerable pain. you alledged it as a reason for not coming down. that such feelings will arise I have very often experienced but have always repressed them. Go Grosvenor & study Epictetus [4]  — he will teach you wisdom. — you are the slave of feelings diseasedly irritable — x unless you get the better of them they will you make you miserable — & you will deserve to be so.

Last year Charles Danvers was visiting his dearest friend at harvest time. this friend was David Jardine,  [5]  a man whose equal I have rarely known, married to an admirable woman, & blest with three children the eldest [6]  not three years old — the loveliest most animated boy you ever saw. You perhaps know not what a harvest home is, or you would connect with it every idea of ple interesting toil & merriment. Three months since David Jardine dropt in his own fields & died instantly. this is the heaviest affliction Danvers has ever endured, & yet his whole life has been but a series <series> of disappointments. But I am now showing you his conduct. he means to go to the first harvest home, that he may subdue the feelings that agonize him whenever he sees a field of corn or a reaper.

My good French Captain goes by the first cartel. this you will be glad of — God bless him wherever he goes. I have a letter from him this morning — he & I are now mutually obliged to each other & I have an acquaintance in Nantes or Brest if I should ever want one.

It is now tea time & I am going to meet a very pleasant & seditious man [7]  whom I much like. tomorrow I shall send this. the parcel arrived this morning. thank you Grosvenor & damn Blackstone [8]  that I may not read them post haste.

Monday. Cottle has been with me — the chief reason of my silence. he was very happy, & we were as happy in making him so. his brother was with him & I could amuse you with the account of an adventure perillous as how we scaled the cliff & as how I stuck in a bog. these things give some interest to a walk morning walk, & an after-dinner account of it, but the in a letter are as flat as the paper they are written on.

I am as happy as the day is long here, & have only one uncomfortable reflection. — that I must go back to town. heigh ho Grosvenor xxx I have a most cordial hatred for London, it deprives me of half the enjoyments of life xx will perhaps shorten life itself. the little white house — by the by we had a noble thunder storm last night & I determined on having a conductor to it. the cat has eat all your stag horned beetles — I have a strange history of the death of one for Carlisle — & also of a single combat between a large Cock-Roach & a small beetle, to the great glory of the little black prince

God bless you.

Robert Southey


* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ Palace Yard/ Westminster
Postmark: JU/ 18/ 97
Watermark: Crown and anchor with G R underneath.
Endorsement: 16 July 1797
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 134–135. BACK

[1] Southey translated the second volume of On the French Revolution. By M. Necker (1797). BACK

[2] The Latin translates as ‘For the law’. BACK

[3] Sir John Comyns (1667–1740; DNB), judge and legal writer. BACK

[4] The Stoic philosopher, Epictetus (c. AD 60–after 100), author of the Encheiridion. BACK

[5] David Jardine (1766–1797), Minister at the Trim Street Unitarian Chapel, Bath, who died on 10 March 1797. BACK

[6] David Jardine (1794–1860; DNB), who became a magistrate and legal historian. BACK

[7] Possibly John Rickman, who became a close friend of Southey’s. BACK

[8] William Blackstone (1723–1780; DNB), Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769). BACK

People mentioned