95. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 June 1794

95. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 June 1794 ⁠* 

June 25th. 1794.

On Sunday morning then I shall gladly expect you to breakfast. as for the horse, twill but be an inconvenience. 14s a week is the expence — so says Burnett. but he may <as> well stand in the stable at Brixton as at Oxford.

I think Wynns objection is a very strong one. my opinions are very well known. I would have them so. Nature never meant me for a negative character. I can neither be good or bad — happy or miserable by halves. you know me to be neither captious or quarrelsome — yet I doubt myself whether the quiet harmless situation I hoped were proper for me. it certainly by imposing a prudential silence would have sullied my integrity. I think I see you smile & your imagination turns to a strait waistcoat & Moorfields. aussi bien

Some think him wonderous wise & some believe him mad. [1] 

My brother has been ill treated by his new Captain. [2]  he brings with him two old messmates & disrates Thomas to make room for them. this has irritated me very much. my Mother wants to get him removed to another vessel. my opinion is that he should quit <the> navy, & emigrate with me. why should we burden our friends here? we can exist there with independance. sooner or later I must support myself & tis absurd to waste time at college.

John Seward has long left London. he is now at home in Worcestershire. Coleridge & Allen you will be much pleased with. Wynn quits us this day week.

what do you mean by “farewell till I see you & then too”? I am ill fitted for writing. my mind is harrassed by continual anxiety. my brothers situation distresses me much. however tis but visiting America at last. & tho quitting this country would rend the heart strings — like tooth drawing twould be a violent & certain remedy.

I am sitting by the fire. how do the Brixton wasps?

for Gods sake make Harry any thing but an engineer. I do most heartily abhor any trade relative to man butchery. he is apt for any thing. during Michaelmas Term I think not of residing. tis my wish if possible never to reside again. but I am doomed to take orders & little less than a miracle can rescue me.



you know not how I delighted in the prospect of living so much with you & seeing every thing promise so fairly for happiness.

but I must take my own advice to my brothers Muir Palmer &c [3] 

Tho cankering cares corrode the sinking frame
Tho Sickness rankle in the sallow breast
Tho Death himself should quench the vital flame
Think but for what ye suffer & be blest.

So shall your great examples fire each soul
To in each freeborn heart for ever dwell
Till Man shall rise above the unjust controul
Stand where ye stood — & triumph where ye fell. [4] 

You will like the poetry better than the sentiments. but the man who wrote & felt those lines must never be guilty of silence.


* Address: G C Bedford Esqr/ New Palace Yard/ Westminster
Stamped: OXFORD
Postmark: AJU/ 26/ 94
Watermark: [Obscured by MS binding]
Endorsements: Recd. June 26. 1794; Ansd & sent same day
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 22. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 58–60; Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 208–209 [in part; 1 paragraph]. BACK

[1] An adaptation of James Beattie (1735–1803; DNB), The Minstrel; or, the Progress of Genius. A Poem. Book the First (London, 1771), Book 1, stanza 16, line 9. BACK

[2] Robert Barlow (1757–1843; DNB), knighted in 1801. The captain of Thomas Southey’s ship, the Aquilon. BACK

[3] The political reformers Thomas Muir (1765–1799; DNB), Thomas Fyshe Palmer (1747–1802; DNB), Maurice Margarot (1745–1815; DNB) and William Skirving (d. 1796; DNB) had all been transported to Australia in 1794. The ‘&c’ probably includes Southey’s particular hero, Joseph Gerrald (1763–1796; DNB), who was awaiting transportation at this time. BACK

[4] These two stanzas form part of Southey’s ‘To the Exiled Patriots’, first sent to Robert Lovell on 5–6 April 1794 (see Letter 85) and published in part in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s A Moral and Political Lecture (1795) and Conciones ad Populum (1795). Southey never issued the poem under his own signature, though a version appeared in the Galignani brothers’ unauthorised edition of his Poetical Works, published in Paris in 1829. BACK

Places mentioned