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335. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 July 1798 ⁠* 

Articles of Impeachment

against

Grosvenor Charles Bedford,

one of his Majestys light-horse [1] 

_______

1. that he the said Grosvenor Charles Bedford has persisted in a long & obstinate silence, a crime humanely punished in his majestys dominions by flogging & half-hanging.

2. that he has detained dispatches from Anthony Carlisle requesting the attention of R.S. to some children then at Bristol, till the children had left the place.

3dly that he is vehemently {suspected} from the external appearance of the letter of having used it in the way by which the Huns were accustomed to make mule steaks. [2] 

________

Grosvenor! most mulish Grosvenor! beast! for beasts are dumb & you are silent, & to be silent is to be dumb & to be dumb is to be a beast, & therefore are you most logically brutalized. O for a dictionary of vituperation – a Gradus ad Parnassum [3]  of abuse – a Thesaurus of execrations that might make Ernulphus [4]  damn himself for a barren-brained blockhead-Beast, for to be obs you are obstinate, & to be obstinate is to be a mule, therefore beast again! Beast, for to be a soldier is to be a brute, therefore yet again I say beast. b monstrous beast – for to be a horse soldier is to be a Centaur [5]  therefore prodigious beast! hast thou ears to hear? let the voice of malediction rumble like down thy auricular labyrinths like the mail coach over Brentford stones. [6]  hast thou eyes to see? let them look upon the letter that disturbs thy indolent repose, pleasantly as the rock-ribbed toad leers at the stone-mason who saws him open.

It has done me good. I am better – much better. forty grains of Ipecacuanha [7]  could not have been {more} beneficial to my gall – a voyage across the Bay of Biscay [8]  could not have renderd me more pigeon-livered. I am softened – turtleized – yea a very lamb. I am prepared to read thy expiatory lines with the favourable eye of reconciliation – My expectation gapes for thy letter like a frog in a hot dusty day on the turnpike road; it will swallow thy excuses as a whale bolts herrings.

Write & thou shalt hear from me, as how I am dwelling in a house – which – to the great titillation of thy risible nerves is christened

Martin-hall.

I have asked Wynn to come to it.

Grosvenor God bless thee.

Robert Southey.

In verite you have left {me} in suspense respecting your goings on – which if I had not had most negro employments would have been very unpleasant. direct to Cottles – & one more God bless you.

Friday evening. 20th July 1798 [9] 


Notes

* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London./ Single
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: B/ JY/ 23/ 98
Endorsement: 20 July 1798
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 58–59 [in part]. BACK

[1] Grosvenor Charles Bedford had joined a company of volunteer cavalry, probably the Light Horse Volunteers of London and Westminster. BACK

[2] The Huns, a group of nomadic tribes of the 4th and 5th centuries AD, were thought to eat raw meat, which they tenderised by placing under their saddles at the beginning of the day’s ride. BACK

[3] A dictionary used to assist in the writing of Latin verse. The Latin translates as ‘steps to Parnassus’. BACK

[4] Ernulf or Ernulphus, Bishop of Rochester (1040–1124), was regarded as an authority on cursing; see Laurence Sterne (1713–1768; DNB), The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, 9 vols (London, 1759–1767), III, pp. 309–311. BACK

[5] In mythology a creature that was half-man and half-horse. BACK

[6] The main road between London and the south west of England passed down the high street of Brentford in Middlesex. Southey would have travelled through Brentford many times on this route. BACK

[7] A commonly-used emetic. BACK

[8] The waters of the Bay of Biscay were notoriously turbulent. BACK

[9] 1798: Added in another hand. BACK

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August 2011