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

36. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 27 December 1792] ⁠* 

Thursday noon

I have a long letter begun but in the business of getting ready time is wanting to compleat it. will you send my book to Oxford. Baliol College Oxon will do for the direction. Gibbon [1]  & any others you may like to read I hope you will not scruple to detain as I shall have plenty of others to study — my prepossessions are not very favourable — I expect to meet with pedantry prejudice & aristocracy from all which Good Lord deliver poor

Robert Southey

your arguments are answered in petto [2]  & you shall have them on paper soon.

you cannot conceive how much I miss Combe in packing up. tomorrow morning I depart & when you get this you may fancy me half starvd about Tetbury ruminating upon the days to come & anticipating all the horrors of examination.

suppose each College should associate like the Crown & Anchor [3]  what will become of Basil? [4]  must he follow Gualbertus? [5]  or turn timeserver? or go to France? ah ca ira ca ira ca ira —  [6] 

Such were the sounds that oer the crested pride
Of the proud German scatterd wild dismay
As down the steep Jamappe &c &c [7] 

you shall an ode to the dying year 1792 in my next.

is it possible you can join Justice & Burke [8]  in one sentence
if it be he but oh how falln how changd [9] 
From him who foremost stood in freedoms cause
The bold opposer of oppressive power &c

Seriously speaking I do not know any one man whom I so despise & execrate. of his conduct I can judge. his free reflection I cannot judge as I do not understand

if once I get upon this subject (& I deserve no better) my letter will never be finished so once more farewell.


Notes

* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Old Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: [partial] A/ 93
Endorsement: Decr 1792
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, p. 169 [in part, one sentence; dated December 1792]. BACK

[1] A book by Edward Gibbon (1737–1794; DNB), possibly The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1788). BACK

[2] From the Latin in pectore, meaning ‘in the breast’, or ‘in the heart’. BACK

[3] An inn on the Strand, London, where on 20 November 1792, John Reeves (1752–1829; DNB) established the Association for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers. BACK

[4] St Basil (c. 330–379), founder of eastern monasticism. A pseudonym used by Southey when writing in The Flagellant (1792). BACK

[5] John Gualbert (c. 995–1073), founder of the Vallombrosian order. The pseudonym ‘Gualbertus’ was used by Southey for his controversial attack on flogging as an invention of the devil in the fifth issue of The Flagellant (29 March 1792). BACK

[6] A French revolutionary song. BACK

[7] An adaptation of Thomas Gray (1716–1771; DNB), The Bard (1757), 1.1, lines 9–11. The French had won a great victory at Jemappes on 6 November 1792. BACK

[8] Edmund Burke (1729/30–1797; DNB) defended the American revolutionaries in 1776, but condemned the French Revolution in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). BACK

[9] A paraphrase of John Milton (1608–1674; DNB), Paradise Lost (1667), Book 1, line 84. BACK

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March 2009