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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1581. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [18 February 1809] ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

‘How shall I thank you for the pleasure & delight of your excellent & pretty letter’ [1]  inclosing the half-quarter of my poor mutilated pension. – That pension makes me disposed to swear every time it comes.

You have not heard from me because I have been any thing rather than at leisure either of heart or hand. Little Emma was no sooner recovering from an illness than her Mother was taken seriously ill, & confined for above a week to her bed – We were the more alarmed because there was great danger of its bringing on premature labour. Thank God she is better, & that danger is over.

I have been busy, in gutting borrowed books which were to be returned with great speed, & which were like wood cock all trail. They cost me three weeks of almost incessant application, – that is of all the application that I could command. I waited to begin a new article for the Quarterly till the first number was published, [2]  – & as that is so near at hand will begin tomorrow – But if Gifford likes my pattern work – he should send me more cloth to cut. – he should send me Travels, which I review better than any thing else. I am impatient to see the first number. – Young Lady never felt more desirous to see herself in a new ball-dress, than I do to see my own performances in print, often as that gratification falls to my lot. The reason is that in the multiplicity of my employments, I forget the form & manner of every thing as soon as it is out of sight, & they come to me like pleasant recollections of what I wish to remember. Besides the thing looks differently in print. In short Mr Bedford there are a great many philosophical reasons for this fancy of mine, & one of the best of all reasons is that I hold it good to make every thing a pleasure which it is possible to make so, – & these sort of Claude spectacles [3]  are very convenient things for a man who lives in a land of rain & clouds, – they make an artificial sunshine for what some people would call gloomy weather.

The first number ought to have been striking – but indeed indeed I am afraid there are too many of the sons of the feeble xxx upon your list. It is no matter how respectable the thing is if it be dull withal.

God bless you – in a few days I will create leisure for another number of Kehama. [4]  I have not written a line {of it} these last two months. First I was indisposed myself, – then the children were, lastly my wife, & anxiety unfits me for any thing that requires feeling as well as thought. I can labour, I can think, – thought & labour will produce poetry.

in haste

yr Robert Southey

You are surely mistaken in saying this payment is up to October last – it must be July.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E/ FEB/ 1809
Endorsement: 18 Feby 1809
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 218–219 [with omissions, and mis-dated 12 February].
Dating note: dating from endorsement. BACK

[1] Quotation untraced. BACK

[2] Though dated February, the first number of the Quarterly Review was published on 3 March 1809. Southey’s next review was of Extractos em Portuguez e em Inglez; com as Palavras Portuguezas Propriamente Accentuadas, para Facilitar o Estudo d’Aquella Lingoa (1808) in the Quarterly Review, 1 (May 1809), 268–292. BACK

[3] Coloured spectacles rather than the treated mirror known as the Claude Glass. The tinted lenses were used by amateur artists seeking to paint effects of light on the landscape. BACK

[4] Southey’s poem The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

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August 2013