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

9. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 5 May 1792] ⁠* 

Dear Bedford

I ought certainly to have returned you my best thanks as well for your letters as your giving up the Flagellant. I would have wrote sooner but I have no longer the consolation of having acted either properly or consistently — what had happened from malice & tyranny I could bear but when I have stooped to mean{n}ess & falshood I cannot find that pride in reflection necessary to comfort. I look upon myself with contempt & fly from the hideous retrospect. Bedford I have been obliged to write to Vincent to confess myself wrong — I deserve to be despised I deserve to be shunned but I do not think you will despise me — more than once have I approachd the very brink of destruction still however I live in the hope of revenge & that hope is the only thing which can render life supportable.

your last leaves me in an unpleasant suspense you have some virtuous &c action to tell me — accustomed as we are to such complicated meanness & villany it must be something very bad to surprize me — I am not quite eighteen & few men of eighty have been more persecuted — but disappointment & misery are the portion of all my family & I must bear my part — were I to lay open the whole history of these misfortunes you would think it scarcely credible, still less so that I could survive them — hope & the firm dignity of conscious merit have hitherto supported me, the last of these is gone — I am despicable in my own eyes & criminal in those of my friends where then can I look for assistance — hope can bring little.

the Flagellant is gone — still however do I think that our joint production may acquire some credit — the sooner we have a volume {published} the better — the Medley — the Hodge Podge — the Whatdoyoucall it — or to retain our old plan Monastic lucubrations any of these titles or any better you may propose will do. shall we dedicate it to Envy Hatred Malice & all Uncharitableness?

Powerful arbitrators of the minds of men — ye twin sisters who have already honoured us with your marked attention — ye who can convert innocence into treason & shielded by the arm of power remain secure &c &c &c

x shall we dedicate it to the Shade of Elizabeth [1]  — or to the Doctor or to the Devil or to the King or to Ourselves —

Gentlemen

To you in whose breasts neither Envy nor Malice can find a place, who will not be biased by the clamors of popular prejudice nor stoop to the authority of ignorance & power &c &c &c &c

I see no reason why we should not publish pretty soon it will be at least four months before we can prepare it for the press & surely by that time we may venture again upon the world

we have venturd
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders
These last nine numbers on a sea of honour
But far above our depth — the high blown bubble
At length burst under us & now has left us
(Yet smarting from the rod of persecution
Tho’ yet unwearied) to the merciless rage
Of the rude sea that swallowed Number five —

You like the plan of publishing a volume — what says Wynn? if you think proper Collins may speak to Rough upon the subject but this I leave entirely to you — we can do without him certainly but I think it would be as well to ask him. & as we must delay publishing for some months till we are ready if you can persuade little Collins it will be much better — explain your liberal actions in your next

yours sincerely

R. Southey.


Notes

* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Brixton Causeway/ Surry
Postmark: MA/ 5/ 92
Watermark: Crown and anchor
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. 162–163 [in part; dated 1792]. BACK

[1] Elizabeth I (1533–1603; reigned 1558–1603; DNB) had re-founded Westminster School in 1560. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009