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

133. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 22 August 1795] ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

My Uncle is in England. I am in daily expectation of seeing him again — yet know not when I shall see him.

Grosvenor when next I see you — it will not be for a visit. I shall fix my residence near you to study the law!!!

my Uncle urges me to enter the church. but the gate is perjury — & I am little disposed to pay so heavy a price at the turnpike of orthodoxy. a decided Humanist — I shall be the advocate of that Xtianity which I believe in because I see it in its native & simple beauty. trust me Bedford Infidelity is rapid in its progress — shallow-headed Deists, & arrogant Atheists swarm every where, & will every{whr} succeed in argument except when they meet with those who believe in the benevolence of God & the inspiration of the man Jesus Christ. Optimism is my creed.

on seeing my Uncle I shall communicate to him my intentions concerning the Law. if he disapproves of them — I have to live where I can & how I can for fifteen months. I shall then be enable to enter & marry.

if he does — why then Grosvenor my first business will be to write to you & request you to procure me lodgings. somewhere at Stockwell or Newington — or any where as far from London {&} as near your road there as possible. I cannot take a house till my finances will suffer me to furnish it — & for this I depend upon my Madoc — to which after Xmas I shall apply with assiduity — always remembering John Doe & Richard Roe! [1] 

& now — will you permit me in a volume of Poems [2]  which go to the press tomorrow to insert your Witch of Endor either with your name or initials? & to be Corrector Plenipotent? this is an office Coleridge & I mutually assume, & we both of xx {us} have sense enough & taste enough to be glad of mutual correction. his poems & mine will appear together — two volumes elegantx as to type & hot-pressd paper. & for his — meo periculo [3]  — they will be of more various excellence than any one volume that this country has ever yet seen. I will rest all my pretensions to poetical taste on the truth of this assertion.

give my love to Harry — & tell him that if he has time he will oblige me & serve me by sending a description of the catapulta balista scorpion &c as a note for my Joan of Arc. I will make my acknowledgement to him either by name or not by name. the poem is advanced one fourth part — & will now do me very much credit. I destine the original MSS [4]  as written at Brixton for you Grosvenor. it will not contain 1000 lines of the printed copy — so completely have I alterd & amended it.

one word more. I print the ode on your birthday (by the by many thanks for mine) & a sonnet addressd to you. may I prefix your name? or if not (& I see no reason why not) what name shall I insert. Grosvenor & Bedford are both used in the poem.  [5] 

God bless you — & yours.

my Edith sends her love to you. & bids me press you to come down. I have a bed for you at Bath. & if a hearty welcome can make up the deficiencies of indifferent accommodation I shall be most glad to see you there. so will my Mother. & so will one who is not sorry that necessity keeps me from London.

Would I were with you to assist in the doing over C.C.!

my love to Horace — & remembrances to all friends

farewell

Robert Southey

tell me of Madm Endor speedily.

the 4th book of Joan is advanced in printing. Harrys note be early in the 6th. I know his ability & doubt not his will.


Notes

* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster./ Single
Stamped: [partial] TOL
Postmark: AU/ 22/ 95
Watermarks: Figure of Britannia; COLES/ 1794
Endorsement: Recd. Augt 22 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. 245–246 [in part, where it is dated 22 August 1795]. BACK

[1] Fictitious characters, often used to signify the plaintiff (Doe) and defendant (Roe) in legal suits. BACK

[2] An unrealised project for a volume of poems to be written and edited by Southey and Coleridge. BACK

[3] The Latin translates as ‘at my own risk’. BACK

[4] A reference to the first version of Joan of Arc, written in summer–early autumn 1793. The MS is now in the Houghton Library, MS Eng 265. BACK

[5] ‘Birth-Day Ode, 1793’ and ‘Sonnet III’ appeared in Southey’s Poems, (Bristol, 1797), pp. 67–71 and p. 109. In both poems Grosvenor Charles Bedford was addressed as ‘Bedford’. BACK

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Published @ RC

March 2009