415. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 June 1799 *
Wednesday June 5. 99.
My dear Grosvenor
My journey was like the new method of cutting for the stone, memorized in my Letters.  but I learnt one piece of information which you may profit by – that on Sunday nights they put the new horses into the Mail always – because as they carry no letters, an accident is of less consequence as to the delay it occasions. this nearly broke our necks for we narrowly escaped an overturn. so I travel no more on a Sunday night in the Mail.
I am the better for my journey, & inclined to attribute it to the greater quantity of wine I drank at Brixton than I had previously done. therefore I have supplied the æther by the grape-juice – & exchanged the table-spoon for the corkscrew.
I find Printers faith as bad as Punic faith.  new types have been promised from London for some weeks & are not yet arrived – therefore I am still out of the press. I pray you forget not to send me the old man woman who was circularized
[Southey inserts sketch of a large O]
who saw her own back, whose head was like the title page of a Jews prayer book, who was an emblem of eternity, the Omikron of old women.  you will make a good ballad of this quaint tale. it is for subjects allied to humour or oddity that you possess most powers. witness the Barbers  & Pretty Grange.  find such subjects & you will find pleasure in writing in proportion as you feel your own strength. I will at my first leisure transcribe for you St Anthony & the Devil. 
The time of removal is so near at hand that I begin to wish every thing were settled & over. this is a place which I leave with some reluctance, after taking root here for 25 years, & now our society is so infinitely mended. Davy, the Pneumatic Institution  Experimentalist is a first rate man, conversible on all subjects & learnable-from, (which by the by is as fine a Germanly compounded word as you may expect to see. I am going to breathe some wonder-working gas  which excites all possible mental & muscular energy & induces almost a delirium of pleasurable sensations without any subsequent dejection.
We had a rare tempest yesterday in honour of his Majestys birth day,  & I thought of you & your Horse & the Grand Review. I will get the Fox Glove receipt for you, which I forgot to ask for when last I saw Davy. remember me with all thankfulness for three weeks hospitality to your father & mother. – & to your brothers both. Snivel  is not susceptible of a compliment or I would not forget her because she did not forget me.
I was fortunate enough to meet Sharpe of whom you said so much on the Sunday that I left Brixton. I was with Johnson in the Kings Bench  when he came in; I mist his name as he entered but was quite surprized at the novelty & good sense of all his remarks. he talked on many subjects, & on all with a strength & justness of thought which I have seldom seen found. this meeting pleased me much – & I wish much to see more of Sharpe. he seems a man whom it would be impossible not to profit by. he talked of Combe  – who is in the Kings Bench. you said that Combe wrote books which were not known to be his.  Sharpe mentioned as his – Lord Lyttletons Letters.  many of Sternes Letters.  & Æneas Andersons account of China. 
God bless you.
* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer / London
Postmarks: BRISTOL/ JUN 5 99; B/ JU/ 6/ 99
Endorsement: 5. June 1799
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. 18–20 [in part]. BACK
 The fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, equivalent to the English ‘o’. Bedford had written a ballad about an old woman, ‘The Hag’s Disaster’; see Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 14 October , Letter 446. BACK
 Nitrous oxide. The effects of the gas on Southey were described in Thomas Beddoes, Notice of Some Observations Made at the Medical Pneumatic Institution (Bristol, 1799), p. 11; and Humphry Davy, Researches, Chemical and Philosophical, Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide, or Dephlogisticated Nitrous Air, and Its Respiration (London, 1800), pp. 507–509. BACK
 Joseph Johnson (1738–1809; DNB) had been sentenced in February 1799 to six months incarceration in the Kings Bench prison for publishing Gilbert Wakefield’s A Reply to Some Parts of the Bishop of Landaff’s Address to the People of Great Britain (1798). BACK
 Combe’s Sterne’s Letters to His Friends on Various Occasions. To Which is Added, His History of a Watch Coat (1775) and Letters Supposed to have been Written by Yorick and Eliza (1779), combined authentic with invented correspondence. BACK