759b. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [c. 10 February
Ah you Dog! - & that’s my answer to your card Mr Bedford.
I have many things to do. I had Coleridge with me, and he
made me lose a great deal of time. My eyes are always bad when the east wind
blows, and during the winter months it is always blowing. I have – God only
knows – how many books to review!  big books, medium-sized books, and little books of every
kind, which of necessity must all be killed off without delay. That is still
another reason why I did not write.
I copied a great part of the second book of Kehama
for your reverence, but I deliberated upon the propriety of adding some verses.
Hence that delay. I hope during the coming week, God willing, to send you the
There are several things to say concerning the translation. I am
quite angry that any man in the year of our Lord 1803 should waste his time
translating a part of Ovid,  seeing that we have a sufficient number of
translations of that poet – and good enough – and as critics say of that
epistle, recently translated, very well done. It is worthless labour, a
flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication! If you are going to translate, take something
not done before, something from the Silvae of Statius,  the fragments of Valerius
Flaccus, Claudian,  or better still go to the Greeks, to Hesiod, or Apollonius,
or perhaps to Nonnus, 
whom I very much wish to read. It is best not to translate at all because the
best translator always injures the original. Although he eats good meat, he does
not send forth good meat. He loses the odour and taste in the digestion. Even if
your genius is not so good as Ovid’s, it is better than Ovid at second hand.
I shall write again as soon as possible. Farewell.
* Address: To/ G C Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/
Postmarks: BRISTOL/ FEB 10 1803; [partial] B/ 11
10 Feby. 1803
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. The Latin
version (original) is to be found in Letter 759b.
Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols
(London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 307-308. BACK
was reviewing these for Annual Review for 1802, 1
 Southey finally sent Grosvenor
Bedford a draft of Book 2 of The Curse of Kehama (1810) on 9
March 1803 (see Letter 764). BACK
Four Heroick Epistles of Ovid; Translated into English
Verse (1803). BACK
 Publius Papinius Statius (c. AD 45-c. 96),
Silvae (c. AD 89-96). BACK
 Gaius Valerius Flaccus
(d. c. AD 90), who wrote an unfinished epic poem, the
Argonautica; and Claudian (d. c. AD 404), who also wrote
an unfinished epic, De Raptu Proserpinae (c. AD
 Hesiod (c. 8th
century), author of Works and Days and
Theogony; Apollonius of Rhodes (d. after 246 BC), author
of the epic poem, the Argonautica; and Nonnus (c. 4th-c. 5th
centuries AD), author of the epic poem, Dionysiaca. BACK