319. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [27-]28 May 1798

319. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [27–]28 May 1798 ⁠* 


Well Grosvenor – & how is it? am I to congratulate or to console? there is fortunately so much to be said on either alternative, that were a man to write a declamation he might toss up to determine on which side he should declaim. however Grosvenor God prosper you in this & every other wish of your heart.

You have expected to hear from me before this - I have visited little – walked little – in fact have scarcely done anything but talk to B George Burnett – now laid up in the lying in chair with a venerable sciatica – & written letters – aye Grosvenor but they were to my wife, & so you will not complain. I bathed once, but it gave for some seconds such acute pain all round my loins or veins that I feel half discouraged from incurring the risk of such another morsus diaboli. [1] 

Time however has past tolerably well here – & if there had not <been> a magnetic point fixed elsewhere perpetually attracting my wishes, I should have said very happily, in the first place I have no law books here. God be praised there is not one in Burnetts library, in the next I had two days conversation with William Taylor, a man whose whole character & conduct has very much interested me. I go to visit him on Wednesday & remain till the Tuesday following – so directez vous to me at Mr Taylors. Surrey Street. Norwich.

This morning I have been clearing off my epistolary debts – tis now half past twelve – we dine at half past one – & I have previously to pulchrify. –

these occupations however would not however have made me halt in my letter till Monday morning, had not two flaming young Ladies [2]  entered, the one of whom is laying close siege to the citadel of the Bishops affections, & bom attacking his heart thro his palate bombards him during his confinement with blamonge (you may spell the word better if you can.) She has desired him to preach upon this text – it is not good for man to be alone. [3]  the folly & pertness & forwardness that would have disgusted if given in <a> large dose, amused me for half an hour. I was disposed to Democratize & so laughed with them & at them.

I am now in almost momently expectation of the vehicle in which I leave Yarmouth. I could write you a good traveller like letter & describe to you the particularities of the place, as how the cows have no horns (by the by a great improvement –) & of the Yarmouth arch-architecture, which consists in forming it of two whale jaw bones; the triumphal arch of a Greenland trader. & I could write you a descriptive letter, for however unpromising to the first view of a flat country may be, it has yet its peculiar & characteristic beauties. I am not disposed to repeat what I have said elsewhere – & what is but uninteresting in prose. As for the society here, it was a remark of Mary Wollstonecraft that the inhabitants of a sea port were less cultivated than the inland dwellers, & as like most of that Womans remarks it was a wise & a true one. [4]  they send their boys to sea – ergo their young men being amphibious, rise but little above other animals of that genus. sedition there is in plenty in the circle to which I have been introduced. I have found also two very interesting young men, William Taylor & a cidevant Unitarian minister, now a Theist, by name Martin, a man of gentle manners & unassuming ability. [5] 

Grosvenor God bless you, write to me & believe here as every where & now as always

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.

Monday 28 May. Yarmouth.


* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London/ Single
Postmark: E/ MA/ 29/ 98
Endorsement: 28 May 1798
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 165–166. BACK

[1] The Latin translates as ‘devil’s bite’. BACK

[2] Unidentified. BACK

[3] Genesis 2: 18. BACK

[4] A paraphrase of sentiments in Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (London, 1796), esp. pp. 134–138. BACK

[5] Thomas Martin (dates unknown) had resigned from his post in 1797 due to a theological dispute with some of his congregation; see A Letter to the Society of Protestant Dissenters, at the Old Meeting, Yarmouth, from Thomas Martin, On His Resignation of the Office of Minister Among Them (1797). His replacement was George Burnett. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Yarmouth (mentioned 3 times)