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453. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [10–13 November 1799] ⁠* 

Sunday

Tom is safe – & so I suppose you know. [1]  your last crossed mine upon my {the} road – I should have written since, but the business of settling first interrupted me, & illness afterwards. I am miserably unwell – in pain in every possible part – from my head to the very termination of the rectum, sore all the way. a bowel-complaint has in three days reduced me to almost a palsied debility – & this is not the worst – for I had before & still have certain achings, physical ones – at the heart, that puzzle me to account for them. a settled dull obtuse aching just enough to attract continual attention – & show that all is not as it should be. If this continues I shall take advice of Beddoes or go to him.

Think Grosvenor – a poor fellow who does not know the first elements of Euclid kept all day & night at fluxions! [2] 

Wednesday

Thank God Nature has stopt the sluices. but I am weaker than bad swipes. [3]  & so sore! & so exhausted with sleeplessness & head ache! & fever! & want of appetite! & then this clinging heart complaint – do you wonder that I should be hipped? Write me a letter Grosvenor give me some matter to interest me & snatch the ten minutes employed in reading it from the tedious uniformity of a day of confinement. it is now many months since I have been well. would to God there were peace that I might try the climate of France or Italy.

I meant to have scrawled thro the sheet but my intellect is as empty as my intestines.

God bless you

yrs, whilst any of him remains

Robert Southey.

Burton. near Ringwood.


Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: CHRIST CHURCH
Endorsement: Novr 1799
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Unpublished.
Dating note: References to Southey’s illness in this letter suggest a date very close to that of his letter to Humphry Davy of 12 November 1799 (Letter 454). BACK

[1] Newspaper reports confirmed Tom Southey’s ship, the Sylph, had not been captured, but had safely returned to Plymouth after a long cruise; see, for example, Morning Chronicle, 26 October 1799. BACK

[2] Euclid (fl. 300 BC), Greek mathematician, author of the Elements. ‘Fluxions’ was a 17th and 18th-century mathematical term for what are now called ‘derivatives’, as well as a term for bowel movements. BACK

[3] Weak beer. BACK

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August 2011