1211. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 August 1806

1211. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 August 1806 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I do not like writing to you – & you will immediately see why. Our house is in a very comfortless state. Tom is laid up with the ague, – in addition to which he has the piles in so damnable a degree that God knows when he will be cured. The measles have found their way here, – one of the children (you know Coleridges are in the same house) is just recovered, – the rest must have it, & it is one of the plagues of this infernal disorder that it requires a fortnight for the infection to ripen – so that unless they all take it from one – it may stay in the family these six weeks. The long & the short is that the house is full of sickness & of people at the same time, – & I had rather you would come in October – when we shall have got rid of both. Into the bargain – I strongly suspect that the unborn will be here before he or she is xxx or they are expected. [1]  Now Grosvenor it would mortify & vex me if when you came I should not be able to make the house thoroughly comfortable to you, & to be as happy – as boyish & as butlerish [2]  as I have long been looking on to be. – By the middle of October – God willing, this will be the case, – probably by the beginning, – & this will not be too late for our country – tho certainly a little earlier is better. Zounds – I am as uneasy & as uncomfortabell as a Turtle at this lying on his back at the Bush Tavern, [3]  or a barrelled oyster travelling by the mail.


I have written for memoirs of Churchey [4]  – & you shall have them when they come. there are some biographies to send you & a preface to finish – but all your queries have been categorically answered [5]  – I will write to you in my very first hour of sunshiny spirits – meantime God bless you – & me into the bargain –



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ AUG15/ 1806
Endorsement: 15 August 1806
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 24. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Herbert, the Southeys’ first son, was born on 11 October 1806. BACK

[2] There are several jokey references to ‘Butler’ in Southey’s letters to Bedford. These comic inventions originated in schoolboy stories at Westminster. BACK

[3] Probably the Bush tavern in Corn Street, Bristol. BACK

[4] Walter Churchey (1747–1805; DNB), a Welsh poet who published Poems and Imitations of the British Poets in 1789. Southey had written to Joseph Cottle regarding Churchey; see Southey to Joseph Cottle, 11 August 1806, Letter 1210. BACK

[5] Southey is referring to his joint publication with Grosvenor Bedford, Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807). Churchey is not included. BACK