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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

119. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 January 1795 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor. If I were not very well acquainted with your disposition I should apprehend by your long silence that you were offended with me. in one letter I spoke perhaps too warmly but you know my affections are warm — I was sorry at having so done & wrote to say so. the jolting of a rough cart over rugged roads is very apt to excite tumults in the intestinal canal — even so are the rubs of Fortune prone to create the gizzard-grumblings of temper.

Now if you are not angry with me (& on my soul I believe you & anger to be perfectly heterogeneous) you will write to me very shortly. if you are — why you must remain so for a fortnight — then it is probable I shall pass two days in London on my way to Cambridge — & as one of them will be purely to be with you if I do not remove all cause of complaint you have against Robert Southey — you shall punish him with your everlasting displeasure.

From Horace too I hear nothing. were I on the Allegany mountains or buried in the wilds of Caernarvonshire I could not have less intercourse with you. perhaps you are weaning me like a child!

& now Bedford I shall very shortly see George Strachey. if he be in London or at Trinity. two days in London. one with you, when I shall call on him. the other with some friends of Coleridge [1]  & correspondents of mine — admirable poets & pantisocrats.

how will Strachey receive me? is he alterd? will he be reservd & remember only our difference? or is there still the same goodness of heart in him as when we first met? I feel some little agitation at the thought. Strachey was the first person I ever met with who at all assimilated with my disposition. I was a physiognomist without knowing it — he was my Substance  [2]  — I loved him as a brother once. — perhaps he is infected with politesse — is polite to all & affectionate to none.

Coleridge is a man who has every thing of Bunbury but his vices. he is what Bunbury would have been had he given up that time to study which he consumed you know how lamentably. I will give you a little piece which I wrote & he corrected. twas occasioned by the funeral of a pauper without one person attending it!

What? & not one to heave the pious sigh? Not one whose sorrow-swoln & aching eye [3] 
For social scenes for Lifes endearments fled Shall drop a tear & dwell upon the dead?
Poor wretched Outcast! I will sigh for thee And sorrow for forlorn Humanity!
Yes I will sigh! but not that thou art come To the stern Sabbath of the silent Tomb.
For squalid Want & the black scorpion Care (Heart-withering Fiends!) shall never
enter there!
I sorrow for the ills thy Life has known, As thro the Worlds long pilgrimage alone
Haunted by Poverty & woe begone, Unloved unfriended thou didst journey on.
Thy Youth in Ignorance & Labor past And thy Old Age all Barrenness & Blast!
Hard was thy Fate, which while it doomd to Woe Denied thee Wisdom to support
the blow,
And robbd of all its energy thy Mind Ere yet it cast thee on thy fellow kind,
Abject of thought, the victim of Distress, To wander in the Worlds wide wilderness!

Poor Outcast! sleep in peace. the Winter storm Blows bleak no more on thy
unshelterd form.
Thy woes are past — thou restest in the Tomb! I pause & ponder on the Days to come.

I like this little poem, & there are few {of} mine of which I can say that.

Bedford I can sing eight songs. 1. the antique & exhilirating Bacchanalian Back & Sides go bare. 2. the Tragedy of the Minced Pye or the cruel Master Cook. 3. the comical jest of the 1/4 rushlight. 4. the bloody Gardiners Cruelty. [4]  5 — the godly hymn of the seven good joys of the Virgin Mary being a Xmas carol. 6 — the Tragedy of the Beaver Hat — or as newly amended the Brunswic bonnet, containing three apt morals. 7. the quaint jest of the three crows. 8 the life & death of Johnny Bulan. [5] 

now I shall outdo Horace! to him to your father & Mother & Harry remember me particularly. likewise to Mr Deacon.

farewell & believe always

your sincere & affectionate

Robert Southey.

Monday. Jany. 5th. 1795.


Notes

* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: BATH
Postmark: BJA/ 7/ 95
Endorsements: Recd. Jany. 7 1795.; Ansd. Jan 8. 1795.; R.S./ 1795; 5 Jany 1795
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 228–230 [in part]. BACK

[1] Coleridge’s friends possibly included Robert Favell. BACK

[2] At Westminster School, the name given to an older boy assigned to induct a new pupil into school rules and rituals. BACK

[3] A revised version, entitled ‘The Pauper’s Funeral’, appeared in Southey’s Poems (1797). BACK

[4] Stephen Gardiner (c. 1495/8–1555; DNB), theologian, administrator and Bishop of Winchester, was a leading proponent of the restoration of Catholicism — and persecution of Protestants — during the reign of Mary I (1516–1558; reigned 1553–1558; DNB). BACK

[5] A list of popular ballads. BACK

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March 2009