293. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 March 1798

293. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 9 March 1798 ⁠* 

March 9. 98. Bristol.

Nay Grosvenor – you could not suppose my silence proceeded from any childish pique. I had much to do & nothing to say. I have no new incident to recount, no new feeling & as for observations – those alone that I am anxious to make can little interest you. Would it please you to hear that I have seen a few gnats buzzing in the lanes at [MS illegible] that the beech trees keep their leaves – that the yew tree looks beautifull in the wood? & yet these are the remarks I have made – . my intercourse with men teaches me nothing worth learning – an evening walk gives me some new images for poetry. In the country I have no feeling but what delights me – fills me, – makes me better. I should be very religious Grosvenor had I a home in the country, where I could always see the sun set, when I could lie down & watch the running water, or sun myself on a primerose bank. I cannot tell you how I feel when every object around reminds me of something so powerful – so beneficent as creative intelligence. In town where are these feelings gone! I am another being. my soul seems annihilated. I have no enjoyment of life there – it is existence – like a Jew brokers existence; & not quite so quiet as a toads in a block of marble. Meliora novi proboque deteriora sequor [1]  – which is – I must live in London & learn – what is not worth learning.

So I must up & eat law in May. well. but I shall not remain with you till the next law meal. I purpose going to Yarmouth to see George Burnett – such a shake by the hand as I shall have is worth going a hundred miles for. God bless him. there are few persons whom I love so entirely.

Oh. Musæus. [2]  Keep one till it can go to Lisbon. the other send to John May. No 4. Bedford Square. a man, by the by, whom you would have known, but that you were so seldom with me – that you had gave yourself no opportunity. remember this is not meant as a reproof. Can you come down here? read the ninth <tenth> line from the bottom of this page Grosvenor. you may pass a happy week here – & is not he a fool who loses a week of happiness by his own fault?

God bless you.


* Address: Grosvenor Bedford
Endorsement: 9 March 1798
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. AL; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A paraphrase of Ovid (43 BC–AD 17), Metamorphoses, Book 7, lines 20–21. The Latin translates as ‘I know the better course and commend it, but I pursue the worse’. BACK

[2] Grosvenor Charles Bedford’s translation of Musaeus (fl. c. early 6th century), The Loves of Hero and Leander (1797). BACK

People mentioned

May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Yarmouth (mentioned 1 time)