1199. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 July 1806

1199. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 July 1806 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I thought it so likely you would hear from Wynn the particulars concerning John Southeys will, that I felt no inclination to repeat the story to you – which would not have been the case had the old man done as he ought to have done. Good part of his property consisting in an newly purchased <estate> is given to a very distant relation of his mothers family, & of course gone for ever. About 2000 £ in legacies the rest falls to his brother as Sole Executor & residuary Legatee. Neither my name nor either of my brothers is mentioned. Thomas Southey apprized me of this the day of the old mans death. With him I am on good terms – that is, if we were in the same town we should dine together, for the sake of relationship, about once a month, – & if any thing were to happen to me of any kind of family importance – such as the birth of a child – I should write him a letter beginning dear Uncle. He invites me to his new ‘the Cottage, – & I shall go there on my way to Lisbon. I think it likely that he will leave his property rather to Tom than to me – for the names-sake; – but not likely that he will leave it out of the family. [1]  He is about three or four & fifty, – a man of no education – nor indeed of any thing else – & so you have all that I can tell you about the matter, except that there’s an end of it. Some people, they say, are born with silver spoons in their mouths, & others with wooden ladles. I will hope something for my daughter upon the strength of this proverb inasmuch as she has three silver cups, [2]  – but for myself I am of the fraternity of the wooden ladle.

Andres whole poem is too long – & if the part be unintelligible – which I think is very likely – even omit it altogether. [3]  Last night I began the Preface – huzza!

And now Grosvenor let me tell you what I have to do. I am writing 1. A History of Portugal. 2 The Chronicle of the Cid. 3 The Curse of Kehama. 4. Espriella’s Letters. [4]  look you all these I am writing, – the one is in the press, & both the second & third must get into it & out of it before this time twelvemonth, or else I shall be like the Civil list. By way of interlude comes in this preface – Dont swear, & bid me do one thing at a time – I tell you I can’t afford to do one thing at a time, no nor two neither & it is only by doing many things at a time that I contrive to do so much, for I cannot work long together at any thing without hurting myself – & so I do every thing by heats, that by the time I am tired of one my inclination for another is come round.

Dr Southey is arrived here. [5]  he puts his degree in his pocket – summerizes here – & will winter in London to attend at a Hospital – about this, of course I shall apply to Carlisle – & if it should so happen that you do not see him here, shall give him a direction to you when he goes to London. he is now in thr his three & twentieth year, & is about as fine a young man ‘as ever the sun shone on’. [6]  If he had been only a Lord Henry – you would have seen his portrait in every print shop, & his panegyric in every newspaper.

God bless you


July 5. 1806.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ JUL 8/ 1806
Endorsement: 5 July 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), III, pp. 45–47. BACK

[1] Southey was mistaken; his uncle Thomas left nothing to his nephews. BACK

[2] These had been sent to Edith May Southey as presents by the wife of Thomas Woodruffe Smith (c. 1747–1811), Mrs Gonne, and Susannah Rickman; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 13 May 1806, Letter 1179. BACK

[3] Southey is discussing entries for his jointly edited project with Grosvenor Charles Bedford, published as Specimens of the Later English Poets in 1807. John André (1750–1780; DNB), army officer, spy and poet is not included. BACK

[4] Southey’s projected ‘History of Portugal’ was never completed; his Chronicle of the Cid was published in 1808; The Curse of Kehama was published in 1810; Letters from England: by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish was published in 1807. BACK

[5] Henry Herbert Southey graduated as MD from Edinburgh University on 24 June 1806. BACK

[6] A line from the traditional folk song, ‘Lord Thomas and Fair Elender or the Brown Girl’. BACK