Tuesday. November 1st.
When do I come to London? a plain question. I cannot tell — is as plain an answer. my books wil be out before Xmas. & I shall then have no further business in Bristol. yet Bedford this is not saying when I shall leave it — the best answer is — as soon as I can — & the sooner the better. I want to be there. I want to feel myself settled — & God knows when that will be. for the settlement of a lodging is but a comfortless one. to compleat comfort a house to oneself is necessary for I do not like living in the same den with the beast.
however I expect to be as comfortable as it is possible to be in that cursed city — “that huge & hateful sepulchre of Men”  — I detest cities — & had rather live in the fens of Lincolnshire or on Salisbury plain than in the best situation London could furnish. the neighbourhood of you & Wynn can alone render it tolerable. by the Lord Bedford I fear the air will wither me up like one of the miserable myrtles at a <town> parlour window the noise the smoke the filth the Beast — oh for the house in the woods & the great dog!
I already feel intimate with Carlisle. but I am a very snail in company Grosvenor & pop into my shell whenever I am approachd or roll myself up like a hedge hog in my rough outside.
it is strange but I never approached London without feeling my heart sink within me. an unconquerable heaviness oppresses me in its atmosphere — & all its associated ideas — are painful. with a little house in the country & a bare independance how much more useful should I be — & how much more happy! it is not talking nonsense when I say that the London air is as bad for the mind as for the body. for the mind is a cameleon that receives its colours from surrounding xxx objects. in the country every thing is good. every thing in Nature is beautiful — the benevolence of Deity is every where presented to the eye, & the heart participates in the tranquillity of the scene. in the town my soul is continually <disgusted> by the vices & follies & consequent miseries of mankind.
my future studies too — now I never read a book without learning something — & never write a line of poetry without cultivating some feeling of benevolence & honesty. but the law — a damned jargon — a quibbling collection of voluminous nonsense — but this I must wade thro — aye & I will wade thro — & when I shall have got enough to live in the country you & I will make my first Xmas fire of all my law books. oh Grosvenor what a blessed bonfire! the Devil uses the Statutes at large for fuel when he gives an Attorney his house-warming.
Your boy is a miracle & his sister — what can be done for her? — Zounds Grosvenor is it not a pity that the boy cannot exx marry her? for I am woefully afraid any cross breed will be a degenerate one! What is become of your book?  are your printers as dilatory as mine? I shall have some good Poems  to send you shortly. your two Birth day Odes are printed — your name looks well in capitals & I have pleased myself by the motto prefixd to them. it is from Akenside.  shall I leave you to guess it? I hate guessing myself —
Oh my faithful Friend
Oh early chosen! ever found the same
And trusted & belovd — once more the verse
Long destind, always obvious to thine ear
my Triumph of Woman is manufacturd into a tolerable poem. my Hymn to the Penates will be the best of my minor pieces. the B. B. Eclogues may possibly become popular.
Read St Pierre 
Grosvenor: & if ever you turn Pagan, you will certainly worship him for a Demigod. by the by there are some parts of that said Paganism that may be very delightfully engrafted on the visionarys creed. you & I agree very well respecting the forms of Religion. however even in its worst state it is not a Caput Mortuum.  even the bad would be worse without it.
Farewell Grosvenor. when in London I must see you every day & therefore — my home must be on the way to Brixton: if possible within the compass of an evenings walk to tea.
I want to get a Tragedy out. — to furnish a house with its profits, is this a practicable scheme allowing the merit of the Drama??? or would a good novel succeed better?
heigh ho! Ways & Means! my respects to “all your good family.” particularly remember me to Harry. if you could spare one week — you might run down to Bristol — but this I must not hope.
* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Postmark: ANO/ 1/ 96
Watermark: [Obscured by MS binding]
Endorsement: 1. Novr 1796
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. 295–297 [in part; where it is dated 21 November 1796]. BACK
 Grosvenor Charles Bedford’s translation of Musæus (fl. c. early 6th century), The Loves of Hero and Leander, was published in 1797. BACK
 The poems listed here were all published in Southey’s Poems (1797). BACK
 Mark Akenside (1721–1770; DNB), ‘The Pleasures of the Imagination’, in Poems (London, 1772), pp. 130–131. BACK
 Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814), Etudes de la Nature (1784). BACK
 The Latin translates as ‘death’s head’. BACK