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450. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 24 October 1799 ⁠* 

Burton near Ringwood. Hampshire.

Thursday 24 Oct. 1799.

My dear Grosvenor

Here I am – knee deep in brick, mortar & deal shavings, superintendant of the revolutionizing our dwelling. But we are in an uncomfortable state of anxiety about poor Tom. for these eight weeks we have not heard of him – & a paragraph in the papers states that a brig was seen lying in Ferrol, which was supposed to be the Sylph. [1]  I know not whether any tidings could be obtained from the Admiralty – if there could I should be obliged to you to call there & make enquiry – but it appears to me that if they had any tidings the loss of the ship would be gazetted.

Thank you for exploring Picart for me. [2]  I was right in the fact as I have since found from Charlevoix. [3]  let me send you once more to your books. in Sir John Maundeviles Travels there is an account of the Paradise of Aloadin or Aladeules [4]  – perhaps he may bear a different name there – however you cannot mistake. twas a sort of Apollo-Gardens or dog Oriental Dog & Duck [5]  where he used to convey young men after an opium dose & persuade them that he had Houris & Paradise to reward those who obeyed him, even in this life. in your copy of Maundevile you will find it page 336. will you copy me the passage. I have business with the old Gentleman & would have as many documents as possible.

You say I have invited of the Anthology [6]  that I have invited you to dine on roast beef & given you a French hash. it is not quite the case – I simply invite my guests to dinner – there are dishes in plenty – those who {do} not like high seasoned ones will find somewhat plainer by its side. Send me something for the next volume. it goes to press in December. [7] 

Grosvenor can you never make a weeks leisure to visit me? now indeed – unless you were studying scenery for a picture or poem upon the Deluge – the country is not worth seeing. but if Spring Summer & Autumn are only missing & not dead – why when one of them is found surely surely you might come. here, is the New Forest to be seen – & the Island – & me – & you shall help me to dig in the garden – & we will go up the church tower, & I will be as idle & as happy as you can wish.

Do you know that I have seen a man exceedingly like you, & what is curious is that indecision is the prominent feature in his character. but for the face resemblance I never saw so striking a-one. if that phrase looks as ugly to your eye as it does to mine, you will learn to write one so striking.

Lane [8]  called upon me at Exeter & I dined with him. he is now a handsome man – in orders – without much information – & not likely to pick up more. I never accidentally think of Westminster without remembering Bunbury. While he lived I re[MS torn] that his attachments were never rooted – but s[MS torn] old feelings with which I have sat whole evenings [MS torn] have revived, where & what is he now? m[MS torn] upon all subjects – they may disbelieve Revelat[MS torn] but annihilation seems to me an impossible [MS torn] the merest particle of matter is indestructible. [MS torn] changed – but still it exists. he might must [MS torn] metaphysician who imagines that Atheism pr[MS torn] of existence. Grosvenor I feel now how s[MS torn] it is to write.

The winter comes on & I look forward [MS torn] with the ill bodings of an invalid to its inclemency [MS torn] constitution & opinions. Nature dropt me by mis[MS torn] side of the channel.

You are in the way of seeing Catalogues – or you [MS torn] be – will you look for Gagniers Life of Mahomet for me? [9]  it is a French book & I believe in two volumes. I should like Boulainvilliers [10]  also if you can meet with it.

God bless you.

yrs as ever

Robert Southey.

write.


Notes

* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Endorsement: 24 Octr. 1799
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 203–205. BACK

[1] It was widely reported in the British Press in early October 1799, e.g. St James’s Chronicle, 5 October 1799, that the brig, Sylph, on which Tom Southey was serving, had been captured and was at the Spanish port of Ferrol. BACK

[2] Bernard Picart (1673–1733), Ceremonies et Coutumes de Tous Les Peuples du Monde (1723–1743). BACK

[3] Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix (1682–1761), Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle-France (1744). Southey had asked Bedford (2–3 August 1799, Letter 425) to search Picart’s Ceremonies for the custom of Florida Indians of digging up their dead relatives each year. He found a description of a similar ceremony among the Huron and Iroquois in Charlevoix, Histoire, Letter XXVI. BACK

[4] John Mandevile, The Voiage and Travail of Sir John Maundeville (London, 1727), pp. 336–339; a reprint of an influential 14th-century travel book. Southey referenced the ‘account’ in the notes to Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), Book 7, line 256. BACK

[5] The Apollo Gardens, a pleasure garden, and the Dog and Duck, a tavern, were in St George’s Fields, Southwark, South London. Both were well known for providing cheap amusements. BACK

[6] Annual Anthology (1799). BACK

[7] Annual Anthology (1800) contains no contributions by Grosvenor Bedford. BACK

[8] Richard Lane (1772–1858) Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge, BA 1794, MA 1799. Clergyman, perpetual curate of Brixton, Devon from 1802. BACK

[9] Jean Gagnier (1670–1740), La Vie de Mahomet (1732). BACK

[10] Henri, Comte de Boulainvilliers (1658–1722), La Vie de Mahomed (1730). BACK

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August 2011