40. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 16 [–21] January  *
Wednesday. 16 Jany. Bristol. just received yours
My dear friend all your arguments I have already answered in my own mind but shall delay writing them till I am settled at Oxford. whatever books of mine you wish to read keep as long as agreeable. the rest I shall be obliged to you to forward as soon as convenient to me at Baliol where I purpose sleeping upon Saturday night. “Imberbis juvenis tandem custode remoto gaudet equis  &c this has no more allusion to me than (with due deference to your opinion) Justum & tencaem propositi virum  has to Edmund Burke.  do you remember the fable of Boreas & Phœbus contending to make a traveller fling off his great coat?  the vultus instantis tyranni  is not so difficult to despise as the hand proffering a pension — the price of honor justice & integrity of each unbought grace of life — here I can tell what it means. of your ode a few words before I set to transcribing. before I read the last half sheet I wished you to lengthen it for only three authors are mentioned & only Shakespear of the first rank — Nature had so little to do with Dryden that I wonder at your ranking him with the Swan of Avon — Milton Spenser — Pope — Akenside Collins — Churchill — Beaumont — Fletcher  would each afford a fine scope for your fancy & will you refuse one stanza to deck the unnoted grave of Chatterton?  when this fault is noticed I have noticed all. if however (as I hope) you mean to lengthen it I would not wish you to fetter yourself in the chains of precedent — regular lyrics are like despotic monarchies they look stately but lose all the energy of freedom.
The Wedding day
So far from Bristol. behold me now my friend entered under the banners of science or stupidity which you please & like a recruit got sober looking back to the days that are past & feeling something like regret.
would you think it possible that the wise founders of an English University should forbid us to wear boots! what matters it whether I study in shoes or boots — to me it is a matter of indifference but folly so ridiculous puts me out of conceit with the whole — when the foundation is bad the fabric must be weak.
none of my friends are yet arrivd & as for common acquaintance I do not wish them. solitude I do not dislike for I fear it not but there is a certain Dæmon named Reflection that accompanies whose arrows though they rankle not with the poison of guilt are yet pointed by Melancholy. I feel myself entered upon a new scene of life & whatever the generality of Oxonians conceive to me it appears a very serious æra. four years hence & I am called into orders & during that period (short for the attainment of the requisite duties) how much have I to learn! I must learn to break a rebellious spirit which neither Authority or Oppression ever could bow — it would be easier to break my neck. I must learn to work a problem instead of writing an ode — I must learn to cringe to those whom I despise & to pay respect to men only remarkable for great wigs & little wisdom. I must learn to abuse Thomas Paine  — to worship Edmund Burke  — to revile Dr Priestly  — to damn the National Convention — to speak well of Dr Vincent & to understand St Athanasiuss creed.  quid Romæ faciam? mentore nescio!  the name of that Saint whose life (at least part of it) was as incomprehensible as his productions has brought me into many a dilemma. the present madness of party has so combined his creed with the doctrines of Christ that who doubts the first is now immediately thought to despise the last my maxim always shall be (at least I hope so) to practise the virtues it inculcates & reflect not upon the mysteries it contains of the sanctity of those mysteries I know nothing — their incomprehensibility is evident — Athanasius the reputed author of that stumbling block confessed he understood them not — Tillotson  wishd the creed expunged from the liturgy — yet the one was a Saint & the other an Archbishop.
This day has been a most unpleasant one all except the earlier part of the morning when I read your favourite Horace. that beginning Qualem ministrum fulminis alitem  struck me as well adapted to the present times & I think I shall attempt it this week — certain of falling as much short of Horace as his subject will be inferior to mine. notwithstanding the admiration with which I read his works there is a something in the character of the little fat parasite which sullies it very much. I do not know in the annals of history & barbarity any character which I so much abhor as that of the vain the vile Augustus — the death of Cicero the banishment of Ovid  — the black boys & the incestuous daughter  the total suppression of liberty these are blots which all the art of Flattery cannot hide from the eye of Reason. “with the same hand & probably with the same frame of mind did he sign the proscription of Cicero & the pardon of Cinna”  — you remember Gibbons remark upon Augustuss appearance at the banquet in that very elegant piece of the virtuous Julian. 
the name of Julian reminds me of Collins long lost letter which I have this day received. he need <not> fear that I shall become a philosopher of the Mill  — I am not yet philosopher of the world enough to wish it. but Collins I hourly expect & though it be an easy matter to make out a letter from him to you will desist. your last is here before me — the oftner I read your ode the more I like it & lament its shortness — In mazes high & low in cadence soft & strong — this line is exactly what Pope wished — the sound echoes the sense  to particularize all the beauties were tedious I will only mention “mirths fantastic round & Or Melancholys thought profound — these lines remind one of Milton — will it be vain to hope one day like him to defend the cause of mankind & despise the power of monarchs? but politicks I will not begin — you shall have my really free reflections one day & instead of dazzling you with stars or bewildering you in the maze of metaphysics if you will only follow the straight path I am content. Truth came naked out of the well — with me she shall be only simplex munditus  — Mr Burke  has so bedizend out Falshood that it takes much trouble & time to get a sight of her real form.
to day I have been unpacking & laying out money. tomorrow I make my appearance before a set of fellows each of whom will think me a fool for wearing my hair as God sent it & not getting drunk with him — I do not feel ashamed of myself & yet it is not agreeable to go into hall among them all staring at me who shall stare any where to avoid them. then I must go to chapel god knows how often! but I shall see Combe & for the rest cry out with the Miller I care for nobody not not I if nobody cares for me. 
the scout has just been here to know about my supper. you are only allowed bread & cheese in your rooms here & he asked me if I would have a halfpenny worth or a pennyworth — you may guess my surprize — but twopence is all I can have — many a worthier person wants that — why then should I repine! two sleepless nights & three busy days have fatigued me — my eyes ache and I really want rest — Mason  could write a fine drowsy ode to Sleep I think — the deity however seems coming to me without invocation. he shall not be a loser — but I must be more e[MS torn]
Sunday. just done breakfast.
2 o clock
I made my appearance at dinner immediately after Wynn left me who caught me finishing the above in my own book. here I came off very well — as our hall is repairing & in the room appropriated for eating Liberty & Equality are prevalent. of politics once more — your arguments have not convinced me & the obstacles must be strong that can oppose conviction where it is even wished — too answer I did purpose seriously but the age of eighteen is too young to go deep enough & I have <not> even yet been sufficiently convinced of the depravity of human Nature to admit of arguments which will be <urged> against the speculative ideas of philosophy. do not then I intreat you do not begin the subject again — believe me I wish to decline it for I feel that here are other duties — at the same if I cannot fill a letter otherwise I do not deserve your correspondence. observations upon a collegiate life & an account of mine as minute as can be without growing tedious will supply their place. Collins whom the more I know the more I love & respect will be much with me — we will conform to customs but keep each other in coutenance in the total disregard of ceremonies (among the scholars I name) equally disagreeable & disgraceful we shall read compare & improve together & I trust at some future period look back to the years spent at college with the pleasing reflection that they were spent in doing our duties.
yours most sincerely
* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Old Palace Yard/
Postmark: [partial] OJA/ 2/ 93
Watermarks: Rampant lion holding a scimitar, a second figure; crown with a circle with Lloyd written underneath
Endorsements: 26 <16> Janry 1793; Recd. Jany 22d. 1793; Ansd. 5. Feby. 1793; 1793
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 169–170 [in part; where it is dated 16 January 1793]. BACK
 A fable sometimes attributed to Jean de la Fontaine (1621–1695) in which the North Wind (Boreas) and Sun (Phoebus) compete to make a traveller remove his coat by, respectively, force and persuasion. BACK
 Alexander Pope (1688–1744; DNB); Mark Akenside (1721–1770; DNB); William Collins (1721–1759; DNB); Charles Churchill (1732–1764; DNB); Francis Beaumont (1584/5–1616; DNB); John Fletcher (1579–1625; DNB). BACK
 Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC) was murdered because of his opposition to the Second Triumvirate, of which Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (63 BC–AD 14; reigned 30 BC–AD 14), later the Emperor Augustus, was a member. Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC–AD 17) was exiled by Augustus. BACK
 Julia (39 BC–AD 14), only daughter of the Emperor Augustus, was notorious for her debauched lifestyle. The Emperor Caligula (AD 12–41; reigned AD 37–41), alleged she had committed incest with her father. BACK
 A paraphrase of Edward Gibbon (1737–1794; DNB), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 12 vols (London, 1788), I, p. 86. A copy of this edition was in Southey’s library, Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons, gen. ed. A. N. L. Munby, vol. 9 Poets and Men of Letters, ed. Roy Park (London, 1974), p. 138. Gnaeus Cornelius Cinna Magnus (before 47 BC–after AD 35) was involved in a conspiracy against Augustus in AD 4 but was pardoned. BACK
 Balliol College, Oxford. Probably an allusion to the widely held, but mistaken, belief that it was a ‘Scotch’ foundation, inaugurated by John Balliol, King of Scots (c.1248–1314; reigned 1292–1296). In fact, the college was founded by his father, John Balliol (b. before 1208–1268; DNB) and his wife Dervorguilla of Galloway (d. 1290; DNB). BACK