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

243. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 3 August 1797] ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I like the plan you propose, & see no objection to it at present. but you know how feasable those things appear which we wish. one circumstance only may happen to prevent it — I have some hopes that my mother will come & live with me. this I very earnestly wish & shall use every means to induce her, but it does not appear so probable as I could desire. this I shall know in a short time — & if then you have not changed your intentions — you know how gladly I should domesticate under the same roof with you. in that case I should certainly prefer keeping a servant for various oeconomical reasons.

I think you would derive more good from Epictetus [1]  than from studying yourself. there is a very proud independance in the Stoic philosophy which has always much pleased me; you would find certain sentences in the Enchiridion which would occur to the mind when such maxims were wanted & operate as motives. besides when you are examining yourself you ought to have a certain standard by which to measure yourself: & however far an old Stoic may be from perfection, he is almost a God when compared to the present race who libel that nature which appeared with such exceeding lustre in Athens in Lacedæmon & in Rome. I could send you to a better system than that of the bondsman Epictetus, where you would find a better model on which to form your conduct. but the mind should have arrived at a certain stage to profit properly by that book, which few have attained. it should be cool & confirmed.

As for the Law I am less surprized at your laying it down than at your taking it up. with your prospect of independance I think your leisure could scarcely be worse employed than in learning that which you would only wish to remember in your profession. for myself I think I know Blackstone [2]  well now — & shall get on well. but if Buonaparte should come how many fine schemes he will spoil!

I write now in haste. my time is fully employed & I must walk into town, on an errand already too long delayed.

Are the Hendersons [3]  at Lymington? I should like to see the younger one again. I like her.

To recur again to the first part of this letter. I have many acquaintance strangers to you. many worth your knowing — some not — these last meet only with mere civility from me. how far their occasional calls would be disagreable to you — you best know.

So God bless you.

Robert Southey


Notes

* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: CHRIST/ CHURCH
Postmark: BAU/ 3/ 97
Endorsements: 2 August 1797; 2 Augt 1797
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 321–322 [in part, where it is dated 2 August]. BACK

[1] The Stoic philosopher Epictetus (c. AD 60–after 100), author of the Encheiridion. BACK

[2] William Blackstone (1723–1780; DNB), legal writer and judge, author of Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769). BACK

[3] Friends of the Bedfords. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009