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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1335b. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 June 1807 [English translation]⁠* 

Where the devil are you, Bedford? Where is your new house at Brixton? Where the devil is my pension? [1] 

I am very busy. Today I had a repairer mending the carpet in my study; I had this same repair-man (whose name is Johnny Cockbaine, assuredly the best – Prince-King-Emperor – most worthy mender of all menders. He is worth seeing, and he is worth painting. If you are able to form in your mind an abstract idea of the perfect mender, it will certainly be of this short little Johnny Cockbaine. From head to foot, he is all mender: whatever he does, whatever he thinks is about mending. This little Johnnykins carries as his device a Lion rampant on his buckles. This is a very long parenthesis: now to the matter at hand) I had this same repair-man making new curtains for the study; he had a painter painting the door. I had a bell-hanger hanging a bell. I had a wagon with two packages of books to be reviewed. May the devil take the books. May the devil take the reviewing. I do not like reviewing. I had a fisherman here with a jack [pike] weighing four pounds. The jacks of this lake are very good. I love jack, not roasted but boiled. Boiled jack is better. Roasted is dry. Tell Horace this because Horace loves fish. I had another time a jack of twenty-two pounds. O beautiful Apollo! This was Jackus, this was Johannes. This was Johannes Magnus [1488–1544, the last Catholic bishop in Sweden] as truly as the Archbishop of Uppsala, but certainly that Archbishop would not have been so good boiled.

Where is Peter the Great? Would that this Peter were an Archbishop, then I should dine with an Archbishop. I should very much like to dine with an Archbishop. This whopping Peter wrote me about some books, which was very kind – but did he buy those books? Ask this greatest of all Peters, in the name of the least and the thinnest of all Roberts.

I am quite angry with my printer because he is so very slow. My book [Espriella] is soon to be published.  [2]  I shall send you my book, but you are not to say that the book is mine because it is to be a great secret.

I am sleepy because it is past ten o’clock. Good night, my Grosvenor.

RS

Friday night. Jun. 26, 1807.


Notes

* Address: [insertion in another hand] To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ {Palace Yard}
Stamped: [partial, illegible]
Postmark: 12 o Clock/ 2 JY/ 1807
Endorsement: 26 June 1807
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 453–454. Translation from Curry. BACK

[1] The so-called Ministry of All the Talents, in which Wynn had served as Under Secretary of State in the Home Office, had broken up in March 1807. Before he left office, Wynn had succeeded in arranging that the pension he paid Southey from his personal funds was replaced by a government pension. Bedford was a civil servant in the Exchequer. BACK

[2] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013