The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

142. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 [–30] November 1795 ⁠* 

Sunday. 12. o clock. 29. Nov. 1795.

Bedford our Summons arrived this morning. the vessel goes Tuesday & when you receive this, I shall be casting up my accounts with the fishes.

Grosvenor you have my Will. if the ship founders or any other chance gives me sends me to supper — all my papers are yours. they are with my Mother part, & part with Edith. the relic-worship is founded upon human feelings & you will value them. there is little danger of accidents, but there can be no harm in these few lines. All my letters are at your disposal — but it would be right to return your brothers. & if I be drowned — do not you be surprized if I should pay you a visit. for if permitted, & if it can be done without terrifying or any ways injuring you I certainly will do it.

But I shall visit you in propria personâ in the summer.

Would you had been with me the 14th. [1]  twas a melancholy day yet mingled with such feelings!

you will get a letter from Madrid. write you to Lisbon. I expect to find letters there, & the expectation will form the pleasantest thoughts I shall experience on my journey.

I should like to find your Musæus [2]  at Bristol on my return. if you will direct it to Miss E Fricker (heigh ho! Grosvenor.) at Mr Cottles High Street Bristol — he will convey it to her. & I believe next to receiving any thing from me, something for me & from my friend will be the most agreable occurrence during my absence. I give you this direction as it will be sure to reach her. Edith will be as a parlour boarder with the Miss Cottles (his sisters) two women of elegant & accomplishd manners. the eldest lived as governess in Ld Derbys [3]  family xxx a little while — & you will have some opinion of them when I say, that they make even bigotry amiable. they are very religious, & the eldest (who is but t twenty three) wished me to read good books — the advice came from the heart — she thinks very highly of me, but fancies me irreligious because I frequent no place of worship & indulge speculations beyond reason.

God bless & prosper God bless & prosper you — & grant I may find you as happy on my arrival, as I hope & expect to be.

yrs sincerely

Robert Southey.


Falmouth. Monday evening.

Well Grosvenor. here I am waiting only for a wind. your letter arrived a few hours before me. that to Bath came {to} Nanswhyden.

I have seen Lord Butes Chaplain, Mr Maber who goes to Madrid with us. a useful rather than an agreable companion. my heart is sick at the thought of being so long without a friend. who is it says “thou knowest not

How sharper than a serpents tooth it is

To have a faithless friend — [4] 

I recollect as I write that I am altering Lear. this reflection however springs from your [MS torn] my own feelings. I did take a viper to my bosom [MS torn] to injure me was like liking the file.

thank you for your verses. a few alterations would make it an excellent ode. Edith you will see & know & love. but her virtues are of the domestic order & you will love her in proportion as you know her. I hate your daffidowndilly women — aye & men too. the violet is ungaudy in its appearance, tho a sweeter flower perfumes not the evening gale —. tis equally her wish to see you. oh Grosvenor — when I think of our winter evenings that will arrive — & then look at myself arrayed for a voyage in an inn parlour! whilst to xxx xx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx dry my eye I scarcely know whether the tear that starts into my eye proceeds from anticipated pleasure or present melancholy.

I am never comfortable at an inn. boughten hospitality are two ill-connected ideas. — Grosvenor I half shudder to think that a plank only will divide the husband of Edith from the unfathomed ocean! & did I believe its efficacy could burn a hecatomb to Neptune [5]  with as much devotion as ever burned or [MS torn] Phæacia. [6]  farewell —

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: FALMOUTH
Postmark: CDE/ 3/ 95
Watermark: Crown and anchor with G R underneath
Endorsement: 29 Novr. 1795
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 258–261 [in part, and giving the appearance of being two separate letters: 30 November 1795 and undated]. BACK

[1] 14 November 1795, the day of Southey’s marriage to Edith Fricker. BACK

[2] Grosvenor Charles Bedford’s translation of Musæus (fl. c. early 6th century), The Loves of Hero and Leander, was not published until 1797. BACK

[3] Edward Smith Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (1752–1834; DNB), sportsman and Whig politician. BACK

[4] A paraphrase of King Lear, Act 1, scene 4, lines 287–289. BACK

[5] In Roman mythology, the god of the sea. BACK

[6] An island in the Ionian sea whose inhabitants were renowned for their dissolute behaviour. BACK

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March 2009