73. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before and continued on] 14 December  *
The Gentleman who brings this letter must occupy a few lines of it. his name is Lovel. I know him but very little personally tho long by report. you must already see <he> is eccentric. perhaps I do wrong in giving him this, but I wish your opinion of him. those who are superficially acquainted with him feel wonder — those who know him love. this character I hear, he is on the point of marrying a young woman with whom I spent great part of my young<er> years. we were bred up together I may almost say; & that period was the happiest of my life. Mr Lovel has very great abilities. he writes well — in short I wish his acquaintance myself & as his stay in town is very short, you will forgive the introduction. perhaps you may rank him with Duppa. & supposing excellence to be at 100 Duppa is certainly much above 50.
now my dear Grosvenor I doubt I am acting improperly. it was enough to introduce myself so rudely but abilities always claim respect & that Lovel has these is I think very certain. characters if anyways markd are well worth studying & a young man of two & twenty who has been his own master since fifteen & who owes all his knowledge to himself is so far a respectable character. my knowledge of him I again repeat is very confind. his intended bride I look upon as almost a sister — & one should know ones brothers in law.
Bath. Saturday. Dec. 14 1793
by the time you receive this I shall once more be vegetating at Bristol so direct there as soon as you please. I fancy Charles Collins is offended with me — as tho he delivered the messages I troubled him with he has never vouchsafd one line. now I shall write again & if he still continues obstinate in resentment there let him continue. if CC can shake off my acquaintance upon such no grounds at all, he becomes unworthy of it. but these suspicions are wrong. he shall have a pretty letter — “period round & period witty”  written with a new pen upon gilt paper & then if his anger is not appeasd I will een do like the Doctors give a purge to cure a purge on, & namby-pamby him week after week till laughter conquers resentment. I am in a fine way with my correspondents. Edmund Seward is preparing for orders. & I cannot persuade him that the testament only, should qualify him. the fathers were either mere men or below mere men — human authority is not be followed with passive obedience, but Edmund is as fearful of heterodoxity, as oppression is of truth. what is to become of me at ordination heaven only knows. after keeping the straight path so long, the test act will be a stumbling block to honesty. so chance or providence must take care of that & I will fortify myself against chance. the wants of man are so very few that they must be attainable somewhere & whether here or in America matters little. I have long learnt to look upon the world as my country.
now if you are in the mood for a reverie fancy me in America. imagine my ground uncultivated since the creation & see me wielding the axe now to cut down the tree & now the snakes that nestled in it. then see me grubbling up the roots & building a nice snug little dairy with them. three rooms in my cottage. & my only companion some poor negro whom I have bought on purpose to emancipate. after a hard days toil see me sleep upon rushes, & in very bad weather take out my casette & write to you, for you shall positively write to me in America. do not imagine I shall leave rhyming or philosophising. so thus your friend will realize the romance of Cowley  & even outdo the seclusion of Rousseau,  till at last comes an ill looking Indian with a tomahawk & scalps me — a most melancholy proof that society is very bad & <that> I shall have done very little to improve it! so Vanity Vanity will come from my lips & poor Southey will either be cookd for a Cherokee or oysterized by a tyger.
I have finishd transcribing Joan & bound her in marble paper with green ribbon  & now am copying all my remainables to carry to Oxford — thence once more a clear field & Memory will be soon compleat — & then another Epic Poem & then another & so on, till Truth shall write on my tomb — here lies an odd mortal whose life only benifited the paper manufacturers & whose death will only hurt the post office —
do send my great coat &c. my distresses are so great, that I want words to express the inconveniences I suffer. so as breakfast is not yet ready (tho almost 9 o clock) you shall have an ode to my great coat. excellent subject — excellent trifler or blockhead say you — but Bedford I must be either too trifling or too serious. the first can do no harm & I know the last does no good. so come forth my book of epistles. 
To my Great Coat
I was mentioning Duppas name to my Aunt & was surprized to hear we had some distant relations of that name in Herefordshire. so when you see D make my remembrances & tell him we are most certainly 27th cousins or something there about. & of course I am about 54th cousin to Edmund Seward & then into what a host of relations do I fall!
nothing every surprized me more than the calm silence with which Edmund hear Duppa advance deistical sentiments & leaving me to argue. he advanced them very guardedly & diffidently & I opposed him but poorly & yet ES sat quiet nor was he any ways displeasd with Duppa. Lightfoot was angry & I was angry with Lightfoot — you know how orthodogs he is — Duppa backd up the antiquity of the world & the volcanic lava, mathematically proving its great age by the islands formd of that lava & the time time the lava absolutely requires before it become capable of vegetating.
now what could I oppose to this. Adam Eve & the Serpent. oh Grosvenor priestcraft has chaind down the human mind — & I cannot neither get rid of the chains or feels their necessity. faith is cried up & yet I cannot see its utility. morality must be religion but how will this do for a clergyman! heigho.
* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/
Watermark: G R in a circle; figure of Britannia
Endorsement: Recd. 20th Decr 1793 from Mr Lovell
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22. AL; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 195–197 [in part; where it is dated 14 December 1793].
Dating note: This letter, hand-delivered by Robert Lovell, is the one referred to in Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford [before 18 December 1793]; see Letter 74. BACK