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

56. Robert Southey and Grosvenor Charles Bedford to Charles Collins, 16 September 1793 ⁠* 


Mighty mirror of the age
Pretty Plato — cubic sage
Soul of music-honourd grace
Of Alma Maters powderd race
With thy breeches made of silk
And thy skin as white as milk
And thy hair so nicely drest
And thy waistcoat of the best
And thy shoes so neatly tied
And thy coat in fashions pride
And thy nice collection fine
Godlike glorious & divine
Connoisseur in every art
Master of the gentle heart
Christ Church pride & Oxford beau
What is there thou dost not know
Hail then thrice & thrice again
Happiest of happy men
[start of section in Bedford’s hand]
Happy now to wildly range
In the meadows of Pipe Grange
Pretty Grange & pretty Pipe
Where the Plums & Peaches ripe
Clustring dropping all around
On the flower enamel’d ground
Jack the second [1]  in thy hand
Under some elm take thy stand
On with Ovid’s [2]  pretty metre
Pleasure smiling in each feature
On the Pucelle of Voltaire [3] 
On a soft Italian air!
Humming gently like the bee
On every branch of every tree
Pretty humming pretty air
Ruby apple golden pair
[end of section in Bedford’s hand]
Pretty songster as you sing
Walking in a fairy ring
All the birds approaching near
Modulations sweet shall hear
Coming from this Orpheus [4]  new
Gently breathing forth from you.
And the winds shall cease to blow
And the rivers cease to flow
Touchd by notes so sweet the owl
Shall in concert learn to howl
Lost in wonder look at you
And drop his eyelids soft & blue.
[start of section in Bedford’s hand]
And the weasel there shall steal
And learn to squeak & learn to squeal
The Dolphin there in evening still
Dares the Dam of water mill.
And with open Gills the Trout
Wonders at the harmonious souls
Rout proceeding from thy bellows
Prettiest of pretty fellows!
Ah! take care lest any fish
To gratify a selfish wish
Snap thee up in luckless hour
Victim of his ruthless power
Never Jonas [5]  felt such dread
When Behemoth snapped his head
Snapped his head & shoulders too
Shoulders breeches stockings shoe!
Shoe with pretty ribbon tied
Stocking silk so nicely dyed!
Lucky whale no spur or boot
Was on, to gall thy gapeing throat
[end of section in Bedford’s hand]
Oh may never wondering Jove [6] 
Send an eagle from above
To snatch thee taking then no heed
And make another Ganymede [7] 
Pretty Prince & Pretty Boy
Heavens pride & heavens joy
There thy hand shall fill the cup
And Captain Colquitt [8]  gulp it up
Oh take heed wheneer you walk
Lest the eagle hear you talk
Swooping down with mighty swing
Hear thee sweetly play & sing
And take thee to the Gods above
To sing & play to mighty Jove
[start of section in Bedford’s hand]
Ah take care lest any Hebe [9] 
Meet thee when the Goddess Phoebe [10] 
Drives her ponies thro the sky
Ponies white & chariot high
Take care lest away she run
With Mrs Collins’ darling son
Horrid thought & dreadful deed
Hebe taking Ganymede!!!
[end of section in Bedford’s hand]
Then what wailings would resound
Over all the woful ground!
So when once the Naiad dame
Of the font where Hylas came
Carried off the lovely boy
Great Alcides [11]  darling joy
Hylas [12]  Hylas then he cries
Hylas — Echo loud replies.
Charley Charley so would sound
All the rocks & woods around
Charley Charley where art thee
Whither whither canst thou be!
Out of hearing out of sight
Gone & lost & vanished quite.
Oh take heed my friend for fear
Some Oread [13]  chuse thee for her dear
[start of section in Bedford’s hand]
Or some mandrake yideous yelling
Snatch thee to his dismal dwelling
Horrid mandrake horrid scream
Dismal form of dismal dream,
Better sit at home & write
To one & Southey, gentle wights
Then take out your neat casette
And pay the epistolary debt
Turn the sentence neat & pretty
Period round & period witty
Dotted note of admiration
Put into it’s proper station
Rhapsody & dashes long
Meaning clear & sentence strong
Gibbon’s [14]  slyness Voltaire’s quaintness
Than these two men sure you aint less.

May no bugaboo or ghost
Cause your senses to be lost
No saw head on bloody bones
Sitting on the churchyard stones
Fright thee with it’s saucer eyes
Eyeballs red as cherry pies.
[end of section in Bedford’s hand]
But may gentle slumbers steal
And make you dream & sleep so well
[start of section in Bedford’s hand]
B’ye oh Charley Collins b’ye
Lulla-Lulla-Lulla by.
[end of section in Bedford’s hand]

—————

Pretty Boy so nice & taper
I am sure you’ll like this paper

—————

[start of section in Bedford’s hand]
Border pink & border cream
That you like it well I ween.

G.C.B.

[end of section in Bedford’s hand]

R.S.

[start of section in Bedford’s hand]


Septr. 16. 1793

make my respects to all your good Family. G.C.B.


[end of section in Bedford’s hand]

make my respects to all your good Family.

R.S.


Notes

* Address: To/ Signor Carlo Collins/ at/ Captain Colquitt’s/ Pipe Grange/ near/ Lichfield/ Staffordshire/ only double
Postmark: ASE/ 19/ 93
Seal: Red wax; male figure with illegible motto
MS: Huntington Library, HM 44803 [Unusually, the letter is written on decorated stationery with a pink border patterned with blue dots; it also has a matching envelope.]
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Johannes Secundus (1511–1536), whose Liber Basiorum (Book of Kisses) was published in 1541. BACK

[2] Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC–AD 17), whose works included the Amores, Heroides, Ars Amatoria, Fasti and Tristia. His surviving poems are all written in elegiac couplets, with the exception of the Metamorphoses, which is in hexameters. BACK

[3] La Pucelle (1755–1762), a mock-epic poem by Voltaire (1694–1778). BACK

[4] In Greek mythology, a singer whose song has more than human power. BACK

[5] The story of Jonah and the whale is found in the book of Jonah. BACK

[6] In Roman mythology, the king of the gods. BACK

[7] In Greek mythology, a handsome young boy carried off to Mount Olympus by Zeus. He replaced Hebe (daughter of Zeus and Hera) as cupbearer to the gods. BACK

[8] The naval officer Captain Goodwin Colquitt (dates unknown) was Charles Collins’s uncle by marriage. See John Nichols, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 4 vols (London, 1795–1815), IV, p. 184. BACK

[9] In Greek mythology, the goddess of youth. BACK

[10] In Greek mythology, another name for Artemis, goddess of the moon. BACK

[11] In Greek mythology, another name for Hercules, father of Hylas. BACK

[12] In Greek mythology, one of the Argonauts. He was dragged into a spring by a water nymph who had fallen in love with him. BACK

[13] In Greek mythology, a mountain nymph. BACK

[14] Edward Gibbon (1737–1794; DNB). BACK

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Published @ RC

March 2009