3264. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 13 March 1819

3264. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 13 March 1819 ⁠* 

My dear G.

Thank you for the bills.

I want you to say something to Gifford for me. He knows that Fosbrookes British Monachism is one of the books on my list for him. [1]  It always was my intention to take up the subject of Protestant Nunneries, under that text. But before I could carry this intention into effect, application has been made to me so to do, on behalf of the Establishment at Bailbrook House. The application comes from the Bishop of Meath, [2]  & Lady Isabella King, [3]  who is at the head of this establishment, has sent me all the necessary papers. Gifford probably knows that it was formed under the sanction of the Queen, who saw it during the last year of her life, & then fully perceived the important xxxx benefits to which it might lead. [4]  Tell him then that I shall attack this subject without delay.

So you really supposed that I, living in the North of England, – & moreover knowing Spenser almost by heart, [5]  – did not know that Cuddy was the abbreviation of Cuthbert! And that if asses are called Cuddy-Asses in Durham that this should be more fatal to the name, than th precisely the same thing is to the name of Edward – Richard & John – the first in Somersetshire – the second in Norfolk – the third all over England. [6]  You & his other Peter have a right to call your godson Charles – having given him that name, – but Cuthbert will be his home name, as good a name as any in the English propria quæ maribus, [7]  & one of the very few names which are exclusively English & neither become common, nor grown obsolete. In short Mr Bedford it has all the perfections that a name ought to have.

I have written by this post to Osiris, concerning Edith, who is at present completely lame, & xx confined to the sofa instead of being able to leave the chamber & the house.

Delightful weather we have, & have had. – I have a proposal to make to you, – that you & I learn to ride the German Horse, [8]  & ride travel down upon it in company to Keswick. Think of the glory of being the first Englishmen who performd a serious journey in that way. Whenever we enter a town we will tell the people, ‘tis for a wager,’ & that will clear the way for us; – & we shall raise the country as we go along.

God bless you


13 March. 1819.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 16 MR 16/ 1819
Endorsements: 13 March 1819; 13 March 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s review of Thomas Fosbrooke (1770–1842; DNB), British Monachism; or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England (1817), Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 59–102. It dealt extensively with the need for communities to provide support for single women (90–102). BACK

[2] Thomas Lewis O’Beirne (1747–1823; DNB), Bishop of Meath 1798–1823. The son of a County Longford farmer, he had been educated for the Catholic priesthood, but converted to Protestantism and became a Church of Ireland clergyman. Southey had met him in the Lake District in 1811. BACK

[3] Lady Isabella Lettice King (1772–1845; DNB) founded the Ladies’ Association at Bailbrook House, near Bath, in June 1816. It provided a home for orphaned gentlewomen with no income and was duly praised by Southey in his article in Quarterly Review, 22 (July 1819), 96–101. BACK

[4] Queen Charlotte (1744–1818; DNB) had been a financial supporter of the Ladies’ Association and visited Bailbrook House in 1817. BACK

[5] In Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–1599; DNB), The Shepheardes Calendar (1579), ‘Cuddy’ is the name of one of the shepherds. BACK

[6] ‘Neddy’, a shortened form of ‘Edward’ was a dialect word for a donkey in Somerset; ‘Dicky’, a shortened form of Richard, was used in Norfolk; and male donkeys were referred to as ‘jacks’ (a form of ‘John’) throughout England. BACK

[7] The beginning of the section on the genders of nouns in the long-established Latin grammar, first published as Rudimenta Grammatices (1534); and hence a short-hand way of referring to any grammar. BACK

[8] The ‘Pedestrian Carriage, or Walking Accelerator’, also known as the ‘German Horse’, after its inventor, Karl Drais (1785–1851). It was a precursor of the bicycle, but without pedals, so that the rider sat on the saddle and pushed the frame along with his feet. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)