389. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 March 1799 *
Westbury March 14 – 99 –
Certainly Grosvenor you cannot be more pleg phlegmatic than I am at this present writing. the great business of my life now is blowing my nose, & I have blown it so long & so hard & so often as to have deranged something in its internal structure. my pocket-handkerchiefs – alas my pocket-handkerchiefs! – Sunday ones & all – are in the foul-bag. & still the cursed the secretion goes on.
You tell me a sad story about a schoolfellow of ours & never mention his name. who was it?
The song you mention is I suppose the same as I saw on the Courier of Tuesday – written for the Princes Catch Club, by Robert Southey Esqr.  what squire Southey may have written, I know not, but the Robert Southey that I am acquainted with certainly never wrote a song for the Prince’s Catch Club & certainly never will. if the song was anonymous & its burden Fight for the Good Old Customs & the Cause of Religion & Order, such a song of mine is about the world & from its complexion may likely enough be said to be mine.
That I could write a good play I think my volume  proves – not in the Ballads (which only prove pantomime abilities) but in the Eclogues, where I think the dialogue dramatically true to Nature. Of late I have written many light little pieces, of which the following may amuse, the imitation of my own language & style of thought is compleat.
Inscription under an Oak 
Eke do I send you a very passionate & pretty
Love Elegy. 
The Poet relates how he obtained Delia’s pocket-handkerchief.
Of my next publication  the intent is this. I have a swarm of little poems crowding my desk to which I would not affix my name, yet which I would not burn. it was mentioned to me as a matter of surprize that none of our Poets published an annual Anthology like the French & German Almanacs of the Muses, works of much celebrity on the continent in Germany Burger, Voss, & Schiller  each edited one. I took the hint. many of my friends write well – & would like me be glad of a respectable repository for their second-rate pieces. some write but little – yet will like to see that little in print. the merit of the first volume & its popularity, of which I entertain no doubt will attract shoals of unknown contributions for the succeeding years. the task of editing will be always an amusement for me, & in the succeeding years the profit something. my name appears not – except to one or two of the best pieces I insert, to give respectability to the collection.  I believe after all the nasty original title must be kept, that it may start as a parallel work with the foreign ones. it will be better to admit no translations, judging from myself they disappoint one – we look in a book for something new – & see a poem in its hundredth dress.
God bless you.
I shall be in town on or before May day, & will pass as many days with you as you like.
* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London/
Postmarks: [partial] OL/ 14 99; [partial] 15/ 99
Endorsement: 14 March 1799
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 4p.