848. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [started c. October and continued on] 10 November 1803 *
You will have guessed why I have not written. to say any thing upon a painful subject is painful. I do not love to write concerning what I never mention. I am very well – very chearful – & very actively employed – & yet with all this hæret lateri. 
This fragment has remained far overlong in my desk – to use a Cumbrian phrase. & I will send it off by this post at all events.
What is become of Wynn? I am rather uneasy at not having heard from him for these two months.
You asked me some question about the Bibliotheca.  Longman wrote to me to postpone it, he being infected with the universal panic. I was no ways averse to the delay of the scheme – the discontinuance being optional with me. In truth I have plans enough without it & begin to think that my days work is already sufficiently cut out for me. I am preparing Madoc  for publication. I have so far advanced in the correction as to resolve upon trying my fortune at a subscription. I will print it for a guinea – in one quarto if possible at that price – if not in three small volumes. I will not print any intention till the success of a subscription has been tried privately: that is without being published. because if it fails I can better go to a bookseller. if you can procure me some names do, but never make yourself uncomfortable by asking. of course no money till delivery of the book. A subscription for 300 copies would insure me far more profits than the sale of an edition to a bookseller who always must make cent- per-cent.
It is now fifteen years since the subject first came into my occiput, & I believe Wynn was made acquainted with it almost at the time. it has been so much the subject of my thoughts & dreams, that in compleating it – in sending quite off what has been so peculiarly & solely my own – there is a sort of awefulness – a feeling as if one of the purposes of my existence will then be accomplished. Of its destiny I have a clear foresight – it will procure for me little profit – fresh notoriety – the censure of town readers, & the love of a few country readers. some present envy, & a fame as lasting as the English language & the passions & affections of man. You Grosvenor put you that down in the preface if ever you edit a posthumous edition of my works; as half the prophecy will then have been accomplished the rest will be entitled to belief.
I am growing old Bedford: not so much by the family bible as by all external & inward symptoms. the grey hairs have made their appearance – my eyes are wearing out – my shoes the very cut of my fathers at which I used to laugh – my limbs not so supple as they were at Brixton in 93  – my tongue not so glib – my heart quieter – my hopes thoughts feelings all of the complection of a sunny autumn evening. I have a sort of presage that I shall live to finish Madoc & my History  – God grant it! – & that then my work will be done.
God bless you.
Greeta Hall. Keswick.November 10. 1803.
* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr./ Exchequer/ Westminster
Postmark: E/ NOV 14/ 1803
Endorsements: Novr 10 1803; 10. Novr 1803
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849-1850), II, pp. 233-234 [in part]. BACK