600. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 August-6 September 1801

600. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 August–6 September 1801 ⁠* 

Grosvenor Care [1]  – which you will be pleased to translate

Dear Grosvenor

& not to understand it as if I called you Mr Carey, which would be calling you out of your name. Wednesday 19 Aug. 1801.

Imprimis – I am going to send you the first book of the Curse poem [2]  – which will this day or tomorrow be finished – but as I shall see Wynn in the course of ten days it shall be delayed to have the name potential on its cover.

2dly De Anthologiâ – which is of or concerning the Anthology. [3]  as I hope to be picking up lava from Etna [4]  – I cannot be tying up nosegays here in England. but blind Tobin whom you know – God bless him for a very good fellow – (tho (in a parenthesis mark you!) he is deadlily tiresome) – but Tobin the blind is very unwilling that no more Anthologies should appear – wherefore there will be more volumes with which all I shall have to do will be to see that large paper copies be printed to continue sets – becoming myself only a gentleman contributor – to which ingenious publication I beg your countenance Sir! & support.

& 3dly did not you write a ballad of the Lady her Dog & her Dolly [5]  that were all buried under the Holly? – for I never saw it. but Wynn thought it was mine, which made me think it was Coleridges, whose it was not – & so for the word disagreeabell which it contained it rests upon your shoulders.

You ask me questions about my foreign plans which I cannot readily answer. only that if I get a decent salary abroad, even should my health take a fancy to this queer climate, I have no estate to retire to at home – & so shall have a good prudential reason for remaining there. my dreams incline to Lisbon as a resting place – I am really attached to the country – & odd as it may seem, to the people. in Lisbon they are like all metropolitanians – rogueish enough – but in the country I have found them hospitable even to kindness, when I was a stranger & in want. the Consulship at Lisbon would of all possible situations best delight me – better than a grand Consulship. tis a good thousand a year – but when one is dreaming you know Grosvenor –

These Lakes are like Rivers – but oh for the Mondego & the Tagus. & these mountains – beautifully indeed are they shaped & grouped – but oh for the great Monchique – & for Cintra my Paradise – this Heaven on Earth of my hopes. & if ever I should have a house at Cintra – as in honest sincerity I do hope I shall – will not you give me one twelvemonth, & eat grapes & ride donkeys & be very happy? – in truth Grosvenor I have lived abroad too long to be contented in England – I miss southern luxuries – the fruits – the wines – I miss the sun in heaven – having been upon a short allowance of sunbeams these last ten days. & if the nervous fluid be the galvanic fluid, & the galvanic fluid the electric fluid, & the electric fluid condensed light [6]  – Zounds what an effect must these damned dark rainy clouds have upon a poor nervous fellow whose brain has been in a state of high illumination for the last fifteen months!

God bless you. I am going in a few days to meet Wynn at Liverpool – & then to see the Welsh Lions. so if you know his direction write to me under cover for the love of the frank. & fail not to send the annotations in Thalabam.

Whenever I get my books together I will draw out the long delayed account of Leandrian [7]  poems – which has really only been delayed because the materials have never before me at once.

Grosvenor Bedford I wish you would write a history – for take my word for it no employment else is one thousandth part so interesting. I wish you would try it. we want a Venetian history – I would hunt Italy for your materials – & help you in any imaginable way – think about it & tell me your thoughts.

yrs affectionately

R Southey

Keswick Sept. 6. 1801.


* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr / Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ SEP 9/ 1801
Endorsements: 6 Septr 1801; 6 Sept. 1801
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849-1850), II, pp. 161-163 [in part].
Dating note: The first two sentences of the letter were written on 19 August; the rest on 6 September, by which time Southey was staying at Greta Hall, Keswick. BACK

[1] The Latin translates as ‘my dear Grosvenor’. BACK

[2] A draft of Book 1 of the Curse of Kehama (1810). Southey had begun this on 15 August 1801, but did not finish it until 20 November 1801; see Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester, Robert Southey Papers A.S727. BACK

[3] The proposed successor to Annual Anthology (1799) and Annual Anthology (1800). BACK

[4] A reference to the proposal by Wynn that Southey should become Secretary to Sir William Drummond (c. 1770-1828; DNB), classical scholar, poet and diplomat; Charge d’Affaires in Denmark 1800-1801, Minister-Plenipotentiary in Naples 1801-1803 and 1807-1808, and Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1803. BACK

[5] ‘Imitation of Modern Poetry: an Attempt at the Simple’, Morning Post, 2 October 1800. BACK

[6] A reference to the theories of Thomas Beddoes and Humphry Davy; see Contributions to Physical and Medical Knowledge, Principally from the West of England (Bristol, 1799), pp. 46-47, 141, 207-230. BACK

[7] Poems on the theme of the Greek lovers Hero and Leander. Grosvenor Bedford had privately published his own translation of the Greek poet, Musaeus’s (fl. c. early 6th century), The Loves of Hero and Leander in 1797. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Cintra [Sintra] (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)