3280. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 April 1819

3280. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 April 1819⁠* 

My dear G.

Lay the Captains Journals [1]  aside till I come to London, & then they may travel to Cumberland in one of my packages, in company with books, old cloaths &c.

I have had a dismal time since you heard from me. Edith has had one ailment after another from the time of her delivery, [2]  & is now confined with an abscess, large as a hens egg, & hard as a board, so that it may be long before it is in a state to be discharged. It is now a fortnight since it first appeared. I am less apprehensive of the consequences than I was, seeing that her general health bears up wonderfully well, tho she is in bed 18 hours out of the 24, & scarcely able to sit for the tumour. Edmondson thinks it the termination of xxx <a long> inflammatory dia thesis. [3]  Had it not been for this I think I should have been able to fix my departure for the first week in May – but I cannot leave home till she is in a state which of evident convalescence, – & meantime anxiety has slackened my head hand. Not that I have been idle, – indeed far from it, – but that I have done less than would have been done if my mind had been at ease.

I hope it will not delay me above a week or ten days beyond my intended time. But even if I were in town I certainly should not go to the Westminster meeting. [4]  The chance of seeing some half dozen men with whom I might like to exchange a few words of recognition & shake hands, would xx not make amends for for the melancholy recollection of those whom I lovd better, & need to see at the same time. – Moreover I have an absolute hatred of all public meetings, & would rather go without a dinner, than eat it in such an assembly. I went to the Academys dinner, [5]  for the sake of facing the Slander-Smith, – but I go to no more such.

My wish will be to see as much of my friends as I can, & as little of my acquaintance, – & therefore I mean to refuse all such invitations as would throw me among strangers, or indifferent persons, except in cases where I owe something for civilities received. For I do not want to see Lions, & still less do I desire to be exhibited as one, & go where I should be expects to open my mouth & roar.

There is another reason why I would not attend the Westminster Meeting. As I never went during Vincents life, it might seem as if I felt myself at liberty to go there now, & had not done so before. Whereas so far was I from harbouring any resentment toward Vincent, or any unpleasant feeling of any kind, that I have long, & with good reason, looked upon my expulsion from Westminster as having been in its consequences the luckiest event of my life. And for many years I should have been glad to have met the old man, in full persuasion that he would not have been sorry to have met with me.

I had a beautiful letter yesterday from poor Walter Scott – who has been on the very brink of the grave, – & feels how likely it is that any day, or hour may send him there. [6]  If he is sufficiently recovered I shall meet him for <in> London. But his health is broken beyond all prospect or hope of compleat recovery. He intreats me to take warning, & beware of over-working myself. I am afraid no person ever took that advice who stood in need of it. And still more afraid that the surest way of bringing on the anticipated evil, would be to apprehend it. – But I believe that I manage myself well, by frequent change of employment, frequent idling, & keeping my mind as free as I can from any strong excitement

God bless you my dear Grosvenor


Charles Cuthbert is going on well. – The Almanacks are not come, – but there is nobody to blame, – for I have had no parcel from Murraylemagne

Good Friday. 1819.

Tell Wynn I have had a book sewn for the continuation of his Oliver Newman, [7]  – the first step toward filling it. – I have been too uneasy to go on with it of late, – which is unfortunate, for I am now <just> getting into the full stream of the story


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 12 AP 12/ 1819
Endorsements: April 9 1819; Apl. 9. 1819
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 340–341 [in part]. BACK

[1] Possibly James Burney, Chronological History of North-Eastern Voyages of Discovery and of the Early Eastern Navigations of the Russians (1819). BACK

[2] Charles Cuthbert Southey had been born on 24 February 1819. BACK

[3] A hereditary or constitutional predisposition to a disease. BACK

[4] An annual reunion of ex-pupils at Westminster School, the school that Southey had attended 1788–1792. BACK

[5] As Poet Laureate, Southey was invited to, and attended, the Anniversary Dinner of the Royal Academy on 3 May 1817. He did not meet William Smith at this occasion. BACK

[6] Walter Scott to Southey, 4 April 1819, John Gibson Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, 7 vols (London, 1837–1838), VI, pp. 237–241. BACK

[7] Southey’s unfinished epic, set in New England. The completed sections were published after Southey’s death in Oliver Newman: A New-England Tale (Unfinished): With Other Poetical Remains (London, 1845), pp. 1–90. BACK

People mentioned