54. Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 25 July [- c. 5 August] 1793
54. Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 25 July [– c. 5 August] 1793 *
Newport. Friday July 25. 1793
Ledbury. Saturday 26. 11 o clock morning.
Hereford. Wednesday 30th. 10 morning.
of this enough. I had materials enough in my head to fill up the sheet — but the days of romance are past & a man may travel over the face of this country without meeting one adventure worthy of recording. on my journey I have however been fortunate enough to meet three literary characters. Dr Napleton  the great logician of whom I won enough at cards to pay for his elements of that most execrable science. Watkins  the traveller & another young man who has published an excellent tour thro France & an appendix explaining his principles tho attached to the monarchical revolution of 89, not by any means to agree with the democracy of the present day. however I may differ in opinion from Mr Shepherd  (for that is his name) his company pleased & instructed me. I passd two evenings with him & his sister & in that short space of time we were old acquaintance. reserve I am apt to think exists only in fools knaves or politicians (statesmen I mean). men of liberal ideas will not be backward of communicating them & like the needle to the pole attracted by a kind of natural magnet fly from every duller substance to the more powerful metal. how ingeniously I find an excuse for forwardness! but it strikes me as true. look into life you will find two fools bow hem & sit silent whilst two philosophers equally free from politeness & embarrassment are acquainted immediately. your brother & Edmund Seward were not long strangers to each other.
last night an old man entertained my Uncle (NB a clergyman) & myself. neither of whom he had ever seen before with a conversation of which I will endeavour to give you a specimen. I have been riving along with the Bishop & he is an amazing man. he told me that when he was young he wrote over all the bible because he took such a liking to the Hebrew letters — I had a mind to ask him if there wernt some wrong translations, if it would not have been going too far. I was once very sorry to hear a gentleman say — we was talking along with him about religion you know — & about the excellent moral system of our church & how good a man would be that lived as the Bible & the scriptures tell him & how good the Bible & the scriptures was & he said God d—n you do you think God would inspire a man to write nonsense — ha ha ha — I was very sorry to hear him talk so — but there he was a friend of Humes.  I was acquainted along with Hume. he was apprenticed to Mr Combe’s  father (Naktys  grandfather) in the linen business & being young was put to copy letters — instead of writing Messr such a thing — received yours — done the needful. draft honourd &c he used to make English of the letters & so the business would not do for him. but he was a very pleasant man. he used to say he would rather excuse a man for being a Atheist than a Deist — there his essays are very pretty. a friend of mine asked him why he did not write — he said I am too old too fat & too rich. (I have none of these objections to author-ity or-ship) so much for Humes life from one who knew him. I do not believe that he would have pardoned an Atheist. what Hayley  says of Hume I rather think true
his essays I have never read. upon any other subject it would be arrogant to decide without reading but upon this common sense will speak. however prostituted by villains & disgraced by fools. Xtianity is the purest of moral systems. Deism — will do well for the philosopher whose cool calm passions may be governed by the principles of Reason & Morality — but the minds of the million require a more powerful tie. they must be actuated by hope & fear two master springs admirably touchd by religion. even a Deist will not deny this. the best & wisest of mankind have believed this religion; upon a subject where Reason fails to reason is absurd. it is impossible in favour of any thing where every thing must rest upon supposition. Hume was a vain sophist & a partial historian, & a cold friend —
Rousseau in the present proscription of his opinions has been branded as an Infidel. he was not one. the Savoyard curate  speaks his faith — it is <the> creed of rational Xtianity. Voltaire was a man totally devoid of principle — why they are ranked together in the indiscriminate abuse & absurdity of Aristocracy is easy to see. both had abilities & both loved freedom. but this is trespassing upon forbidden grounds & I must take the strait road to the end of my letter.
dinner is just ready & I even doubt whether this can go to day. the variety of different occupations which filled my time upon my journey must excuse my not having written before.
your letter did not reach me till the evening before I left Bristol & I arrived at home but last night so you I have wasted no time.
I have a letter two thirds finished to your brother which I purpose sending by tomorrows post. Charles Collinss I found on my return & have to acknowledge with one from Edmund Seward. when the regiment which had been quarterd at Derby embarked for Valenciennes — many of the men wept. the King desired them to shout & was answered ‘it will be time enough to shout when we return’. with how very different an account was the public insulted.
you will I think see me in the course of ten days but I shall write & say when. when I can exactly fix. let me hear from you in the mean time. I am at Bristol. I long for a bathe. the only good thing at Oxford is the river. Isis — silver slipperd Queen  — is my Goddess. query would not silver-buckled have been more fashionable? — tomorrow your brothers letter goes off.
* Address: Horace Walpole Bedford Esqr/ Old Palace Yard/
Postmark: AAU/ 5/ 93
Watermark: Crown with G R underneath and figure of Britannia
Endorsement: Recd Augt. 5th. 1793./ B.C.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22. ALS; 4p.
 John Napleton (1738/9–1817; DNB), clergyman and educational reformer. His works included Elementa Logicae (1770). BACK
 Thomas Watkins (dates unknown), author of Travels Through Switzerland, Italy, Sicily, the Greek Islands to Constantinople, Through Part of Greece, Ragusa, and the Dalmatian Isles, in a Series of Letters to Pennoyre Watkins Esq. … in the Years 1787, 1788, 1789 (1792). BACK
 The identity of Mr Shepherd is a mystery, but the book he is described as the author of is almost certainly A Tour Through France, Containing a Description of Paris, Cherbourg and Ermenonville; With a Rhapsody, Composed at the Tomb of Rousseau (1789), published under the pseudonym ‘G. Monckton’. A second edition appeared in 1793. BACK
 The old man who was talking to Southey’s uncle, Herbert Hill, seems to have given a very garbled account of David Hume’s brief time in Bristol in 1734, when he was employed by Michael Miller, a local sugar merchant. BACK
 Southey is paraphrasing William Hayley, An Essay on History; in Three Epistles to Edward Gibbon, Esq. With Notes (1780), lines 450–451. BACK
 The fourth chapter of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s (1712–1778) Émile (1762), ‘The Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar’. BACK