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378. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started before and continued on] 10 February 1799 ⁠* 

Well Grosvenor our meeting is delayed, which is not well. do not however be alarmed, – the journey might not possibly have hurt me but I did not feel equal to it, the fatigue appeared tremendous to me in my present state, & I was fearful of fixing a cough which I am getting rid of. the advice I have is good, & perfectly understandable – it comes too from a man on whom I can rely – & were there any occasion, which there certainly is not, for higher authority, I frequently see Beddoes.

Thank you for your letter, the trouble of copying the Barber was needless, as I could have done it from the Magazine. [1]  it was leave to print it that I askd. [2]  do you know for what I wanted it? for a volume like the Almanachs of the Muses, once famous in France, & now more famous in Germany, where the best of their living writers appear as Editors. help me if you can to a title – I thought of Poetical Gleanings – & help me to any thing else. [3]  Your Barber is incomparable in its way – it was a happy thought – & as well executed as conceived. the plan of the Witch [4]  is better than the execution, but it will make a fine ode. the hymn [5]  I do not like; it is difficult to write a good hymn & when they are very good they are good for nothing – except to sing at church. of your other pieces send me what you think best & the more you send the better – I will find as many faults as I can & mend them on xx xxxx xxxx with your xxxxx leave as well as I can. oh what signature shall you chuse? your name – or initials – or will you be the Translator of Musæus? [6] 

Early in the {next} week I expect to send you my Poems. [7] 

Should you survive me Grosvenor, I not only wish my letters but all my papers to be consigned to you – Excepting letters you will not find much to burn, for I have made magnificent bonfires. but it is possible that you may essentially serve the relations I may leave, by editing what you may find. it is my hope this summer to finish Madoc – but to keep it at least ten years. [8]  so if I die during that period, there will be that. however I should rather live to print it myself – & you see I take care to avoid the slightest danger of injuring myself.

When I come to town in May it will be to keep the two terms – & for part of that time I can gladly be your guest. I look on with little pleasure to a journey – my time passes pleasurably in uniform employments, to-day like yesterday, tomorrow like to-day. indisposition affects my spirits but little, & that only at night when it keeps me waking – from the advance of spring, tonic medicines & the cold bath, I expect assistance, & still more from the sea & the exercise to which the shore will tempt me.


–––––


Sunday Feby. 10.

This has been for some days delayed – I have nothing to add except that I continue to be unwell & hope benefit from this thaw, which soaks thro every part of our old house. I will write with the Poems which will be finished tomorrow – so that by the end of the week I may safely promise them. God bless you.

I am setting off thro a fine snow-soup for my walk.

yrs affectionately

R Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London/ Single
Postmarks: BRISTOL/ FEB10/ 99; B/ FE /11/ 99
Endorsement: 10. Feby 1799
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Bedford’s ‘The Rhedecynian Barbers, An Ode’, ‘Monthly Magazine, 3 (May 1797), 328, under the signature ‘P.H.’ (‘Peter the Hermit’, a psedonym used by Bedford during his and Southey’s time at Westminster School). BACK

[2] It appeared as ‘The Rhedycinian Barbers’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), pp. 44–47, signed ‘G.C.B.’. BACK

[3] The Annual Anthology, published in 1799 and 1800. BACK

[4] ‘The Witch of Endor’ was an early work; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [before 15 October 1794], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part 1, Letter 108. It did not appear in the Annual Anthology. BACK

[5] Unidentified; not published in the Annual Anthology. BACK

[6] Bedford’s translation of The Loves of Hero and Leander had appeared in 1797. In the Annual Anthology (1799) he used the signature ‘G.C.B.’ BACK

[7] Southey’s Poems (1799). BACK

[8] Madoc was published in 1805. BACK

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August 2011