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

90. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [before 28 May 1794] ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I am writing to you upon a subject which you little imagine — but which is the hinge on which my future destiny will turn. you know my objections to orders & the obstacles to any other profession. tis now my wish to be in the same office with you. on this business I spoke yesterday to Wynn. opened him to my views in life. that such was my wish when settled with a small sufficiency in any office where I earnd my salary — to marry shortly & depend for the less necessary agreables of life upon my writings. Wynn much approved all the plan but wished me to remain single at least a year. he likewise thought there would be little difficulty in obtaining such a situation. do my dear Grosvenor give me some information upon this topic. I speak to you without apologizing — you will serve me if you can & tell me if you cannot. it would be a great object to be in the same office with you.

in this plan of life the only difficulty is obtaining such a place. & for this my hopes rest on Wynn & you. in case of success I shall joyfully bid adieu to Oxford. settle myself in some oeconomical way of life — & when I know my situation, unite myself to a woman whom I have long esteemd as a sister & for whom I now indulge a warmer sentiment.

tis an interesting interval when future happiness hangs in the scale ‘& the balance yet trembles with Fate’. [1]  I am much agitated. nor can I calm this agitation when I look forward to the enjoyment of domestic life & the society of my dearest friend with hope but without certainty.

Write to me soon. I am sanguine in my expectations. if you can procure my admission — promotion is a secondary concern tho of that I have hopes. my pen will be my chief dependance. in that situation where a small income secures from want — interest will urge me to write but independance secure me from writing so as to injure my reputation. even the prospect of settling honestly in life has relieved my mind from a load of anxiety.

in this plan of life every thing appears within the bounds of probability. the hours devoted to official attendance even if entirely taken up by business would pass with the idea that I was doing my duty & honestly earning my subsistence. if they should not be fully occupied I can pursue my own studies — & should I be fortunate enough to be in the same office with you it would be equally agreable to both. what situation can be pleasanter than that which places me with all my dearest friends.

I would write more were not my mind so fully occupied upon this one subject. God bless you. may our correspondence soon cease in the more agreable communication of personal intercourse.

most sincerely yours

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster./ Single
Stamped: OXFORD
Postmark: [partial] 28/ 94
Watermark: Crown and anchor with G R underneath
Endorsements: Recd. May 28. 1794; Ansd. same day &/ sent May 31st. 1794
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. 206–207 [where it is dated 28 May 1794]. BACK

[1] ‘A New Song’, see One Pennyworth of Pig’s Meat; or, Lessons for the Swinish Multitude. Collected by the Poor Man’s Advocate, in the Course of His Reading for More than Twenty Years, 3 vols (London, 1793), I, p. 82. Published pseudonymously, it was later attributed to William Roscoe (1753-1831; DNB). BACK

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March 2009