3439. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 February 1820

3439. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 February 1820 ⁠* 

Keswick. 18 Feby 1820

My dear Grosvenor

When need requires I reckon upon you for money as well as friendship. – Seal up a ten pound bill in the inclosed xxxxxxx, & ask Rickman to direct it.

I can speak now with more certainty about my movements. They must be delayed till the end of March instead of the beginning; & if Wynn be at that time (as seems most likely) in Wales, I shall a few days longer on the road. – He will have given you that elagdrifying shock which I meant to have administered xxx you myself, in full expectation that it would have affected you as much as ever shock of the kind from did Cowling, from when the Mag: Rot: used to charge a large phial for his benefit. [1]  I have written about half the poem, & shall probably compleat it in the course of a fortnight. [2]  The title I suppose must be Carmen Funebre – A Vision of Death; – xx a Vision of Judgement would be more appropriate, – but there is no hurry for determining this, as I do not mean to have it announced till it is fairly in the press. I know you will think the Devil is in me about the metre, till you see it – but if I know anything about metre, it is a full, stately, solemn measure, suited to the subject, & perfectly adapted to our language.

This is one cause of my delay. Now hear what is the other. The first vol. of Brazil is about to be reprinted – to make up the sets which would otherwise be broken, – about 170 in number. [3]  I take this opportunity of correcting that volume, & inserting matter from documents which have come, some to hand & others to light, since it was published. And tho a good deal had previously been done, this calls upon me for about a fortnights labour.

During the whole winter I have been <free> from that infirmity which I began to think had taken its place for life. [4]  This has been Natures own doing; & has occurred at a season when I take little or no exercise. Exercise itself may perhaps bring it on again – or it may return when the summer relaxes me, – for return in all likelihood it will. However the respite is positive good while it lasts, – & there is hope in it.

Longman must have this Carmen – It will barely pay its expences, for the nine days wonder which it will excite, will have no perceptible effect upon the sale. [5]  The merit of the composition is of more consequence. It will not be found wanting in poetical thoughts or expression; – nor in eulogy of the proper kind, – both of the living & the dead, – that which is strictly just.

You never saw a livelier, lovelier, sweeter creature than your godson. He visits me in this xxxxx room twice a day, regularly, to see Bewicks beast, [6]  & has for some weeks been a great proficient in the languages xxxxxx xxx xxx x xx attempt <of> the sheep & the Ass.

God bless you


Edwards letter had better be put in a cover, as a security for the inclosure. [7]  I have a good many <some> cares, – & a sure prospect of their growing heavier the longer I live.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement: 18 Feby 1820
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. d. 47. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An obscure reference relating to Southey’s early acquaintance with the Bedford family. Possibly a reference to administering electric shocks from a Leyden jar – a fluid filled phial that was charged by rubbing. BACK

[2] A Vision of Judgement (1821); written in hexameters. BACK

[3] The second edition of the first volume of the History of Brazil (1810–1819). It was not published until 1822. BACK

[4] Southey was suffering from a rectal prolapse; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 October 1819, Letter 3356. BACK

[5] Southey was quite correct. Only 500 copies of A Vision of Judgement (1821) were published and there was no second edition. BACK

[6] The engraver Thomas Bewick (1753–1828; DNB) had begun publishing illustrated editions of fables in the 1770s. The volume Southey owned was possibly an edition of Bewick’s The Fables of Aesop and Others, first published in 1818. BACK

[7] Southey was providing his brother Edward with £10. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)