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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1034. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford [10 February 1805] ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

The nine months being up, I am daily in hopes of hearing that you are safely delivered of a proof sheet, – & every delay now makes me begin to apprehend a miscarriage. – Seriously loss of time begins to be to me a serious loss, for I had calculated that the book [1]  instead of going to press in spring would have been ready for publication in the winter, – & it will not now be forth-coming till the next. If you find it interfere too much with your own concerns, make no scruple about telling me, – & I can easily transfer it to another friend. My motive for charging you with it was twofold – an old feeling which made me prefer associating my name with yours, – & a hope that you might acquire a habit of literary research, to be directed hereafter to better purposes. But if you feel that to be irksome in which I expected you would have found amusement, – do not be so unfriendly as to go on with an unpleasant undertaking, from any fear of inconveniencing me. You & I have known each other long enough to speak freely. No inconvenience could be so great to me as procrastination, & I could without the smallest difficulty entrust the business to somebody else. If however this be not the case – O bone testudo [2]  – do move those stumps a little faster – for you are not now running a race against the hare – but carrying the hare upon your back. & by the Lord we shall never get to the end of the journey unless I can find some means of spurring you thro that thick shell. Send me a list of the authors still desiderated, & I will cause enquiry to be made at Edinburgh, which may somewhat accelerate us: & go to press without delay, for tho I do not wish you at the Devil – upon my soul I wish the Devil at you.

Madoc will be sent to you early in the next month, if no accidental delay take place – which is not very likely. You will see a very handsome book, & a title page, thanks to Duppa, after my own heart.

I see no news, & shall see none till my neighbour General Peche [3]  gets to town & sends me his paper. so how the world goes on heaven knows, not I – not even whether Bonaparte has swallowed up the Prince of Brazil. [4]  – We are greatly shocked at the loss of the Abergavenny, the Captain of which was Wordsworths brother [5]  – an excellent man, who – tho I knew him not, has often been a guest in this very house. You cannot conceive the impression this dreadful accident has occasioned here where every body has known him from a child.

God bless you; send me a proof sheet via Rickman, & we will have a typographical & bibliographical correspondence during the progress of the work, worthy to be held in everlasting remembrance.

Yrs ut semper [6] 

RS.

Sunday night.


Notes

* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ FEB13/ 1805
Endorsement: 10 Feby 1805
MS: Bodleian Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished.
Dating note: From endorsement and Southey’s dating of ‘Sunday’ which was 10 February in 1805. BACK

[1] Southey’s and Bedford’s jointly edited Specimens of the Later English Poets, which was published in 1807. BACK

[2] The Latin translates as ‘O good tortoise’. BACK

[3] John Peche (dates unknown), who had served in the East India Company’s army, gazetted as Colonel in 1796 and Major-General in 1798. BACK

[4] John VI (1767–1826): Prince Regent, and after 1816, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. It was not until 1807 that Napoleon Bonaparte pressured the Spanish into a treaty that divided Portugal up and led to its invasion by the French. John, ruling as Prince Regent, was escorted to Brazil by the British navy, establishing his court in Rio de Janeiro. BACK

[5] John Wordsworth (1772–1805), captain of the East Indiaman, the Earl of Abergavenny, went down with his ship on the Shambles rocks off Portland Bill, on 5 February 1805. BACK

[6] Meaning ‘always’. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013