425. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2-3 August 1799

425. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2–3 August 1799 ⁠* 

Minehead Somsetsetshire. Friday Aug 2. & Saturday. 3. 1799

My dear Grosvenor

I write to you from Minehead – where I have past the longest week that ever uneasiness lengthened out. Edith has been very ill & is recovering so very slowly as hardly to render the daily amendment perceptible. I know not her complaint – it is a general debility – a wasting away – want of appetite – want of sleep – Grosvenor you have no anxieties of this kind.

Your ballad [1]  is so good that I found it an effort of great self-denial not to print it – voila – my reason. the book will circulate much among Ladies who read poetry more than men; there is nothing objectionable to <in> the point – but a woman who should be reading the book aloud at haphazard – would feel very awkward when she came to the conclusion. I took counsel & reluctantly yielded to an unanimous opinion, for the ballad is admirable. I did not expect one so good. write more in this way & you will find a talent rich & improveable.

Cottle is commissioned to forward your copy [2]  as soon as the book is done – with one for Horace. there is a delay about paper – but it cannot be many days longer I think. the Endor Witch is in status quo in my desk – one of the corps de reserve for Volume 2 which is now preparing. [3]  you will find many pieces to amuse you & some few of a higher order. the first poem [4]  – (by Wm Taylor –) is in my judgement of uncommon excellence, more profuse in new & rich imagery than almost any piece that I remember. I look to you for some supplies in the succeeding volumes – I look on this volume <Anthology> with very interesting feelings – it reminds me of many friends. let me never wreathe a garland Grosvenor without one flower from you.

I write under the impression of uneasy thoughts, we meant to go round Devonshire & I am fearful that we must return to Bristol that Edith may be under Beddoes. she is however recovering I think. bad weather keeps me within doors, & anxiety takes away the power of employing myself there.

Some day when you are in the library & with no immediate employment refer to Picart for me. [5]  there is (or I have dreamt so) a custom among some American savages of digging up annually all their relations who have died in the preceding year. see if you can find it mentioned & just give me the outline of the ceremony. I think it was the Floridans who observed it.

Duppa sent me his book. [6]  I thankd him & feel obliged. If you have a ready written letter, or one ready to write, direct it to me at Mr Alloways Minehead <Somersetshire>. [7]  Edith is certainly recovering & we shall proceed on Friday next. if you delay writing for ten days direct then Post Office Ilfracombe Devonshire to remain till called for.

Grosvenor I have more than once felt an inclination to write to you respecting Carlisle. you perhaps overrated his good qualities once – but do you not under-rate them now? & subtracting the due deficit from them, are there not enough remaining to constitute him – if not quite a friend – yet something very near it – one to regard & from whose company much pleasure may be derivable? it is very painful – I know it by much experience, to have your friends sink in the thermometer of your esteem, but I am afraid we like [MS obscured] xxxx we are with friends like Astronomers, who when they discover a spot in the sun look at nothing else. friendship on the wane is like the sick person who loathes the favourite food of his health. by all this I only mean that tho Carlisle has some faults he has more good qualities, that tho bipennated beings [8]  may be are much better, a great proportion of bipeds are much worse. I do not want you to throw away your heart upon him – but I would have your hand ready to receive him with the grasp of cordiality – this last phrase makes my fingers itch for a shake of the hand with you –

God bless you.

yrs in sæcula sæculorum [9] 

R Southey.

do not forget my remembrances to Mr & Mrs B.


* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London/ Single
Stamped: [illegible]
Postmarks: [illegible]
Endorsement: August 2d & 3d 1799
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Bedford’s ‘Hag’s Disaster’, which Southey had decided not to include in the Annual Anthology (1799); for the poem see Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 14 October [1799], Letter 446. BACK

[2] Bedford’s copy of the Annual Anthology (1799). BACK

[3] Bedford’s ‘The Witch of Endor’ was not published in Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[4] ‘A Topographical Ode’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), pp. [1]–9. BACK

[5] Bernard Picart (1673–1733), Ceremonies et Coutumes de tous les Peuples du Monde, 7 vols (1723–1743). Southey was mistaken. Picart contained no such account, and the custom was attributed elsewhere to the Huron and Iroquois. See his letter to Bedford, 24 October 1799, Letter 450. BACK

[6] Richard Duppa, A Journal of the Most Remarkable Occurrences that took place in Rome after the Subversion of the Ecclesiastical Government in 1798 (1799). BACK

[7] Samuel Allaway (dates unknown), a staymaker. BACK

[8] i.e. a being with two wings. BACK

[9] The Latin translates as ‘for ever and ever’. BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 3 times)
Carlisle, Anthony (1768–1840) (mentioned 2 times)
Bedford family (mentioned 1 time)
Taylor, William (1765–1836) (mentioned 1 time)
Beddoes, Thomas (1760–1808) (mentioned 1 time)
Duppa, Richard (c. 1768–1831) (mentioned 1 time)
Cottle, Joseph (1770–1853) (mentioned 1 time)