32. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 November  *
My dear Bedford —
I have two apologies to make before I begin the main subject of this letter. one for troubling you with two in one week. the other for ever touching upon politicks when I ought to have recollected that we differd in opinion — this last shall never happen again — & most heartily do I add Amen to your prayer.
I wrote some short time back to Strachey intending to renew our <a> correspondence with one whom I could have wishd to still think my friend — the expressions I usd at least blamed myself as much as him — I am sorry I kept no copy to send you — the answer I have just received & you have it —
Dear Southey — Yours bearing date the 11th came to hand in the beginning of last week. from my having taken so long a time to consider of it, you will naturally conjecture that I have been at loss for an answer. indeed your letter is nearly unintelligible, but from the little I have been able to decypher you seem to hint (& that not very obliquely) that our Correspondence owes its interruption to me. if such is your meaning to say the least your insinuation is unjust. had you impartially considerd the matter, your justice must have condemnd yourself only. but surely Selfishness should not so far have made you forgetfull of all Modesty as to deny even a share of the blame when you are entitled to the whole. with the same Justice with the same Modesty that you cast the burden from yourself you throw it upon me. But you mistake me Southey. I am no Pack-horse. you have been travelling up & down the country from Bristol to Oxford from Oxford to Bristol & I know not whither — pray how was I to discover your direction even if I thought a letter from me would have proved agreeable? I thank you for your enquiries by Lamb & Collins — if you really thought proper to consider the Correspondence as droppd surely a verbal message could never be calculated to renew it, & your last letter much less so. after the coolness which had taken place at Westminster (of which perhaps the Flagellant was the cause) you might have been certain that the first must have appeard haughty to any one — but your Favour of last week was so in an higher degree tho’ half conceald under an affected humility. However gratified I might have been with the continuance of your Correspondence yet I must not forget what is due to myself as to accept even a pleasure when offerd in so Cavalier-like a manner. — yet tho I must decline the Correspondence* — thus offerd — I trust I never shall consider Southey in any other light than that of affection & esteem — so I may sign myself with all sincerity yr constant well wisher George Strachey.
* these words written after on the other side.
This is exactly his letter markd with —— as in the original I send you now my answer. when his letter reachd me I had just begun an ode to Phillis my spaniel. I finishd it & immediately wrote as follows
Dear George I have only taken a few minutes to consider your letter (tho it would admit of consideration whether I ever ought to notice it or not) my answer to every paragraph is so easy that (tho I really think think you neither expected or wishd to hear more of me) I could not refrain giving it. let me first say it required some time to persuade yourself that your charges in that letter were upon any score justifiable.
you throw the whole blame upon me in recrimination. I kept no copy of my letter to your therefore cannot speak positively but I do not think I did entirely exculpate myself then, I do now. go back to last Xmas — the only notice you then took of me was to send a note to Wynn. with regard to the Flagellant, your prudence I highly commend. your behaviour with regard to every other tie you cannot approve yourself. availing yourself of that knowledge which my credulous friendship had given you & of that exemption which your inconsistency & insincerity had procured you, you amused yourself at school in sporting with that knowledge till you had made every one guess at the truth & not content with that, without regard to any promise you mentioned my name to Rough. — the fact is this Strachey you were tired of one who ever scrupled to tell you of your faults — may they never occasion you more regret than you feel at the loss of my friendship — the excuse of not knowing my direction is so very flimsy, that I wonder at your inserting it even among others so very unjustifiable. supposing that you had forgotten it with as much facility as you had me Collins Lamb Combe or Bedford could have given it you. even had they not you must have known that the old direction would find me. I wrote to you without knowing where you were
You talk of what is due to yourself. I conceive your meaning. state the case however with that impartiality of the want of which in my letter you so much complain. you had acted ungenerously & unkindly to me. I wrote to you, perhaps in an angry stile, such you deservd but I offerd to renew our correspondence, an offer which I now think I ought not to have made in any manner. you reply that I am solely in fault, talk of what is due to yourself & decline the correspondence — the words “thus offerd” wrote afterwards are meant only to appear as palliating. Was you not certain that the Flagellant occasioned the coolness on my part? can you forget that your idleness first checkd our correspondence? can you say that you knew not my direction? I will save you the trouble of answering these queries — you wanted to shake the blame on me. you were conscious of a behaviour equally ungenerous & unjust, & in the space of ten days composd an artful letter to which you never imagined I would have returned an answer.
I have now done with reminding you of your faults — it is a hateful task & for twelve months my intercourse with you has been little more. that intercourse is now over for ever. not without regret on my part, on yours it will be treated with the same levity you display upon every subject.
your well wisher Robert Southey.
I think Bedford will not disapprove of my conduct. I have done with Strachey for ever. will you show this to Collins he knows much of his behavior with respect to the Fl. to him I owd respect. I have twice written to apologize for my former neglect as yet he has answered neither letter. if those apologies are not sufficient you may make as many more as you think proper. the firm consistency of his conduct deserves them —
Yours which you directed to Oxford reached me after my last was dispatched — how you could direct there when in my recent letter I mentioned the day of my departure I am little able to guess — still less so how it could ever find me at so great a distance. you say it is difficult to answer a letter that requires no answer — out of thine own mouth will I convict thee. I had beggd your Chartreuse verses in October they reach me on the 20th of November & at the same time that you send them you tell me mine required no answer. I am much obliged to you for them & for your Horace some stanzas of which I much like, but some of the verses are rough a fault which the transp[MS torn]tion of a few words would rectify — take my translation
You seem to expect something beside this translation — as I am ignorant of what you want I send you this epistle as an equivalent — if however you will mention in your next any production of mine it is much at your service
Berenice to Titus
Upon second thoughts I do not think Stracheys letter deserves any answer at all. I will not yet send it if I ever do —
you will be puzzled I fear to read this vile writing as well as tired but it will be some time before you hear again from me.
Bristol. Nov. 29.
* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Old Palace Yard/
Westminster/ Single Sheet
Postmark: [illegible trace]
Watermark: G R in a circle and figure of Britannia
Endorsement: Recd Novr 24th/ 1792./ Ansd. [Bedford seems to have misdated his endorsement.]
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 22. ALS; 4p.