154. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 May 1796

154. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 May 1796 ⁠* 

Thanks be to God I am in England!

Bedford you may conceive the luxury of that ejaculation if you know the miseries of a sea-voyage. even the xxxxx stone who loves nothing & the merchant whose trade-tainted heart loves nothing but wealth, would echo it. judge you with what delight Robert Southey leapt on terra firma.

to night I go to Southampton. tomorrow will past pains become pleasant.

Now Grosvenor is Happiness a Sojourner on Earth? or must Man be cat & ninetaild by Care till he shields himself in a shroud? — my future destiny will not decide the problem. for I find a thousand pleasures & a thousands pains than <of which> nine tenths of the world know nothing of.

to your long letter I shall elaborately reply in verse. you need not read it if you think I am “urging you to a precipice. [1]  Bedford — better is the tempest of passion — than that unwholesome calm that generates pestilence.

Come to Bristol. be with me there as long as you can. I almost add — advise me there — but your advice will come too late.

I am sorry you could ask if you did wrong in showing Wynn my letter. I have not a thought secret from him. even you know not her good sense yet

Come to Bristol. I do not promise you men worthy your friendship for Charles Danvers will not be there. yet you will love Cottle & his oddities & his excellent heart. & you will find a Sister in one who already loves you because you are my friend.

my passage was very good. & I must be the best tempered fellow in Great Britain for the devil a drop of gall is there in my bile-bag.

I intend a hymn to the Dii Penates.  [2] 

write to me directly & direct to Cottles. I have as yet “where to chuse — my place of rest.” [3]  I shall soon have enough to place me above want — & till that arrives shall support myself in ease & comfort like a silkworm by spinning my own brains. if poor Necessity was without hands as well as legs badly would she be off.

Lord Somerville [4]  is dead — no matter to me I believe. for the estates were chiefly copy hold — & Canon Southey minded wine & women too much to think of renewing for the sake of his heirs.

remember me to all friends — & “to all your good family.” [5] 

symptoms of cleanliness. our Cook said — I belie[MS torn] God does not take much care of me — for I have not had nor time to wash myself these three days.

symptoms of hunger. I swallowed food of his dressing.


Portsmouth. Sunday May 15th. 1796

we landed last night at eleven o clock. left Lisbon on Thursday 5th. & were becalmed South of the rock till breakfast time on Saturday so that our passage was remarkably good


* Address: Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Postmark: MA/ 16/ 96
Watermark: [Obscured by MS binding]
Endorsement: 15. May 1796
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22. AL; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 272–273 [in part]. BACK

[1] Probably a quotation from Bedford’s own letter (which does not survive). BACK

[2] The Roman gods of household and hearth. The ‘Hymn to the Penates’ appeared in Southey’s Poems (1797). BACK

[3] John Milton (1608–1674; DNB), Paradise Lost (1667), Book 12, lines 646–647. BACK

[4] James Somerville, 14th Lord Somerville (1727–1796), a very distant relation of Southey’s by marriage. Southey hoped to inherit a share of the fortune of John Cannon Southey on the death of Somerville, but his hopes came to nothing. BACK

[5] A salutation that Southey commonly used in letters to the Bedfords and to Charles Collins – so much so, that it became an in-joke. BACK

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