996. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 December 1804

996. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 4 December 1804 ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

My fear about Tom has been considerably strengthened – if indeed I ought not rather to say confirmed – by a paragraph in a country paper, which noticing the death of the Master of the Galatea in the attempt to cut out the Lydia, says that the first Lieutenant fell also. [1]  I do not give full credit to this account, because it says the Surgeon was killed – who of course could not have been in the action but what makes it credible is that private letters from the ship should have reached England & yet none for me. Your brother Harry can easily ascertain this at the Admiralty. Surely they must by this time know whether xxxx the first Lieutenant be killed or not. The probabilities are very much on the wrong side. I know he would be in the danger, both by choice & by necessity, & xxxx had he escaped it I know he would have written by the first opportunity – I reaclied more upon your letter than it now seems to warrant. the first Lieutenant might have been mentioned in the account you saw, when your eye was in search of his name. Make for me a second enquiry. the official accounts must have arrived as the affair took place three months ago. Unless the letter which you saw particularized the other officers who fell, we have no reason to infer from its silence that my brother has escaped. The newspaper account, which must have come from a private letter also, is positive in its assertion.

I had many things to say, but this unfortunate subject harrasses me too much. that it is as I fear there can be little doubt – still in these cases one clings to possibilities fooling oneself with hope.

God bless you –

Yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey.

Tuesday Dec. 4. 1804.


* Address: To/ G.C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ Westminster/ Single
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ DEC 7/ 1804
Endorsement: 4 Dec 1804
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Southey’s ship, HMS Galatea, a fifth-rate 32-gun frigate, had, on 14 August 1804 1804, made an unsuccessful attempt to cut out the French privateer General Ernouf (formerly the British sloop of war Lilly) lying at the Saintes near Guadeloupe. Of the 90 men sent on the mission, 65 were killed or wounded, and Southey suspected that his brother was among the dead. Thomas did hold the rank of first lieutenant, but was absent from the raid because he had been placed under arrest. BACK