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

130. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [1 July 1795] ⁠* 

Wednesday.

My dear Grosvenor

I am hard employed that I may soon visit you. in getting forwards with Joan, & as more than three parts of the poem will be entirely rewritten you may suppose this is no light task. as soon as I shall be a fortnight before the press I will absent myself for that time.

do you know Grosvenor I hate the idea of coming to see you for a fortnight. poor Seward — I thought to have seen him this summer. you know I detest the idea of writing upon a lost friend — yet the frame of mind so occasiond will tinge what we are employed upon. these lines are in the first book.

speaking of the old hermit Bizardo.


In the full of years he sunk. his eye grew dim
And on the bed of leaves his outstretchd limbs
Lay useless. patiently did he endure,
In faith anticipating blessedness,
Already more than man in that dread hour
When man is meanest. his were the best joys
The pious know & his last prayer was praise.
I saw him die. I saw the dews of Death
Starting on his cold brow — I heard him then
Pour out a blessing on me. — Son of Orleans
I would not wish to live to know that hour
When I could think upon a dear friend dead
And weep not.  [1] 

I think of him Bedford when alone — methinks a man has no right to gloom a company with his own melancholy feelings.

Cottle my bookseller (a good man & one whose liberality might rescue the fraternity from all obloquy —) is soon coming up to town — chiefly to get a good frontispiece engraved. this is the subject. it requires to be well designed & by a man of genius.

Last evening lone in thought I wanderd forth.
Down in the dingles depth there is a brook
That makes its way between the craggy stones
Murmuring hoarse murmurs. on an aged oak
Whose root, uptorn by tempests, overhangs
The stream, I sat & markd the deep red clouds
Gather before the wind, whilst the rude dash
Of waters rockd my senses, & the mists
Rose round. there as I gazd a form dim-seen
Descended. like the dark & moving clouds
That in the moon beam change their shadowy shapes.
His voice was on the breeze. he bade me hail
The missiond Maid — for lo! the hour was come!
Then was the future present to my view
And strange events yet in the womb of Time
To me made manifest. I sat entranced
In the beatitude of heavenly vision.  [2] 

And this my dear friend is what I am doing at Bristol! as for the future — I can only hope that it will be — the future in rus.

however I earnestly hope & labour to be with you in a fortnight. & then you shall know what I am doing & how I hope to live.

I am very earnest to see Wynn. God bless him!

Strachey has got the Greek Epigrams. I have heard well of him from Billsborrow (who wrote those lines prefixd to the Zoonomia). [3] 

remember me to C Collins. it is a twelvemonth since I have either seen or heard of him.

that twelvemonth has been a very busy one — & has improved my head & heart whatever effect it may have had on my happiness.

write to me Grosvenor. the sight of your handwriting rouses a long train of associations of the pleasing order.

I have put your name & titles to decorate my list & lengthen it. but as I wish you to have a specimen of our B[MS torn] binding as well as typery — you must let me provide your [MS torn]y. the list of subscribers is at Cadells [4]  — & as they no longer belong to me I feel a more earnest wish to lengthen it. the book will be out by the 1st of January.

fare you well.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: AJY/ 2/ 95
Watermarks: Figure of Britannia; COLES/ 1794
Endorsements: Recd. July 2. 1795; 2 July 1795
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 97–98 [in part; second extract from Joan of Arc not reproduced]. BACK

[1] A revised version of these lines appeared in Southey’s Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), p. 22. BACK

[2] A revised version of these lines appeared in Southey’s Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), pp. 33–34. BACK

[3] Dewhurst Bilsborrow’s (dates unknown) poem appeared in Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802; DNB), Zoonomia; or, the Laws of Organic Life, 2 vols (London, 1794–1796), I, pp. [vii]–viii. BACK

[4] The London booksellers and publishers, Thomas Cadell, the Elder (1742–1802; DNB) and Thomas Cadell, the Younger (1773–1836; DNB). BACK

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March 2009