3155. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 June 1818

3155. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 June 1818⁠* 

My dear G.

Thank you for having delivered the Saints out of Purgatory [1]  I now look daily to hear from the Grand Dormouse that he has seen the beatified contents of these ponderous cases, after which they will soon be on their way to Keswick.

The offer respecting the Adv. Library did not require much consideration coupled as it was with the condition of making a catalogue, – an immense labour for such a library, if it were performed as it ought to be. [2]  If it had come without any such condition, it would have unsettled me, as the emolument would have emancipated me from all task work for the rest of my life. I have half a mind to inclose you my last letter from the greatest of Bibliopoles, that you may form by it some estimation of his conceit, which is as immeasurable as the height & depth of Seeva in the Hindoo fable. [3]  If you were to see the manner in which he exhorts me “to put my whole soul” into an article for his six shilling-review, you would breathe out a pious malediction upon his, & cast the letter behind the fire. Whosoever may compile from my papers when the booksellers have the xxxx pickings of my bones, will find rare morsels in the correspondence of this great man.

My cold in its seventh or eighth week, & makes it painful to read aloud, – a great discomfort, for it is my custom regularly to read a proof sheet in this manner, twice, & this last polish is of material consequence, & can be given xx in no other way. The eye can do little without the ear.

Mrs Peachy has sent me a new fashioned lamp for my study – with a ground-glass hemisphere – a handsome affair, but I suspect less convenient than my solitary mold-candle, which can be carried about, – is at hand to seal letters, & moreover supplies a lipsalve as xx useful & much less offensive than any which comes from the shop. I cannot however try this present till we have darkness again, our day light here is considerably longer than yours in London at this season.

Elmsley I hear means to go abroad again, & on his return to take a house at Oxford.

In the reviewal of Evelyns Memoirs (part of which goes to the Grand Castrator with this letter) I have given Sir Richard Phillips a wipe which will amuse you, if it be suffered to stand. [4] 

God bless you


19 June. 1818.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9 Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate
Endorsements: 19 June 1818; 19 June 1818
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 92–94. BACK

[1] A consignment of books, that Southey had bought in Brussels in 1817 and that included the compendium of hagiographies, the Acta Sanctorum (1643–1794), later no. 207 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library, had finally, after much anxiety concerning its whereabouts, been located in London and cleared customs (‘Purgatory’). BACK

[2] See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 1 June 1818, Letter 3144. Southey had been offered the post of Librarian at the Advocate’s Library in Edinburgh at a salary of £400 p.a. BACK

[3] Siva, one of the chief gods of Hinduism; see the description in Southey’s The Curse of Kehama (1810), Book 19, lines 70–98. BACK

[4] Southey’s review of Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn appeared in the Quarterly Review, 19 (April 1818), 1–54. Criticising vegetarianism, Southey wrote ‘The great modern example of this diet is the well-known Sir Pythagoras Phillips, knight, ex-sheriff, and mayor in posse, editor of the Monthly Magazine, author of a Confutation of the Newtonian Theory, and of a Walk to Kew. The physical effects have been largely exemplified in this worthy personage. The moral effects upon the temper, however, have not been so favourable; for though the humane knight is the founder of a society for abolishing the punishment of death, he has, declared in his magazine, that brewers who put unlawful ingredients in their beer, ought to be boiled in their own coppers. In justice, however, to the vegetable diet, which might otherwise be brought into discredit by this unfortunate case, it ought not to be concealed, that though Sir Pythagoras abstains, like a Brahmin, from meat, we have been credibly informed that he eats gravy with his potatoes’ (22). BACK

People mentioned

Elmsley, Peter (1774–1825) (mentioned 1 time)
Gifford, William (1756–1826) (mentioned 1 time)
Nash, Edward (1778–1821) (mentioned 1 time)
Phillips, Richard (1767–1840) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)