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


JSON What's this?
As you're browsing RC, you might see small buttons scattered on various pages. These buttons let you download that page's content in a ready-to-use data file! Learn more on our RC Data page.