343. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 August 1798

343. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 26 August 1798 ⁠* 

Sunday. Aug. 26. 1798

My dear Grosvenor

Your letter this day found me in a remote Herefords part of Herefordshire, the village from whence one part of my ancestry sprung, where they were some 2 generations back the great people, where their old mansion house is now untenanted & in ruins, & where I am visiting a stranger among strangers. [1]  Edith of course is with me, indeed one motive of my rambling was the hope that frequent change of air & much exercise might strengthen her. She is greatly recovered but far from being well. We left home the 12th of this month for Hereford to be with Thomas, & are now at his Uncles [2]  at Dilwyn. from hence we return on Tuesday to Hereford; the end of the week we go to Abberley, to the brother in law of poor Seward, [3]  & our absence from home will not in all exceed a month.

I am very – very – desirous of seeing Leopold Berchtold. [4]  would he were to remain till November in town. I shall then come up to keep term – but before – a plague upon money say I! I would come up on purpose if it were not for the expence. Will you send me his book – because my Letters are in the press again – & I should wish to mention it there. [5]  & Grosvenor pray borrow for me Carlisles account of the Surgical College at Madrid which I once analized for him, as I want to give some account of it in an appendix [6]  & the sketch I then took is imperfect. if you will send these books together to Cottles you will oblige me – & I pray you be not more dilatory than convenience requires.

I have no excuses to offer for silence – at least none worth offering. riding & walking are idle employments – & when I am at home you know not how much I have to do. My mind is never vacant – I turn from one employment to another – & change is to be me as rest. you know I am now a housekeeper, & as my additional charge have not yet received any additional resources, my industry is all in requisition. in this however my Uncle will assist me when he can, & in the mean time it is well that I can do without it. I review a great deal – & am surprized to find the months come round so fast. besides this I have another regular employment which kills two birds with one stone & which I will one day explain to you, & then the Law you know – damn the Law. however I have lately found a second reason for reading a Law book – & shall sit at it hungrily.

At present Grosvenor I hunger & thirst to be in your Library [7]  – & hope to satiate my appetite there in November. do you know that I must keep three half weeks in the terms to come?

I write to you with little comfort out of a most villainous ink-stand. I have never seen Roscoes lines [8]  – & do not expect much from him. he is an accomplished man & a good man, but one whose reputation will not last because it is not deserved. his book is a weak book. [9]  Tenhoves [10]  is worth a thousand such.

My Vision [11]  is not yet fit for the press. it will however soon be there & I shall add other pieces enough to make up a second volume. I have some good ballads ready & my English Eclogues will be among my best things. [12] 

Grosvenor you have an ugly great sheet half filld – I wish it were smaller or fuller. There is a tide in the feelings of man, which taken at the flood leads on to letter writing [13]  – now Grosvenor it was low water before I could get paper & ink, & my pen & ink are miserably uncomfortable. I cannot mend the one – so

God bless you.

yrs truly

Robert Southey

Ediths love. direct to Cottles. I shall soon return.


* Address: To/ Grosvenor Ch. Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London/ Single
Postmark: G/ AU/ 30 /98
Endorsement: 26 August 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. 174–176. BACK

[1] Southey’s maternal relations, the Tylers, originated from Dilwyn, Herefordshire; see Charles John Robinson, The Mansions of Herefordshire and Their Memories (London, 1873), p. 93. BACK

[2] Probably a maternal uncle of William Bowyer Thomas. A Francis Bowyer Esq. of Dilwyn was recorded in An Alphabetical List of the Poll for the County of Hereford, Taken at Widemarsh, before Abraham Whittaker Esquire, Sheriff (Hereford, 1796), p. 38. BACK

[3] Francis Severn (1751–1828), Rector of Kyre and Abberley, Worcestershire, was married to a sister of Edmund Seward. BACK

[4] Leopold, Graf von Berchtold (1759–1809), Austrian philanthropist. BACK

[5] Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, 2nd edn (Bristol, 1799), pp. 290–295, mentions three of Berchtold’s books, but not the gift Southey probably received, Berchtold’s Nachtrict von dem im St Antons-Spitale in Smirna mit dem allerbesten Erfolg gebrauchten einfachen Mittel (1797). BACK

[6] Published as ‘Account of the Royal College of Surgery at Madrid’, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal, 2nd edn (Bristol, 1799), pp. 468–483. Southey was probably translating from a Spanish original in the possession of Anthony Carlisle. BACK

[7] Grosvenor Bedford’s father had a personal collection of books, which Southey had made use of since his schooldays at Westminster. BACK

[8] Probably William Roscoe, Address Spoken by Mr. Holman, at the Theatre Royal, Liverpool on the Night Appropriated for the Benefit of the Children of the Late Mr. Palmer (1798). The highly-regarded and popular actor John Palmer (1742?–1798; DNB) had died on 2 August, leaving several children. The Liverpool benefit was followed by similar events at the Haymarket and Drury Lane Theatres, London. BACK

[9] William Roscoe, The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1795). BACK

[10] Nicolas Tenhove (dates unknown), Dutch antiquarian. An English translation of his Memoirs of the House of Medici appeared in 1797. BACK

[11] ‘The Vision of the Maid of Orleans’, published in Poems, 2 vols (Bristol, 1799), II, pp.[1]–69. BACK

[12] Poems (1799) included six ballads and six ‘English Eclogues’. BACK

[13] A paraphrase of Julius Caesar, Act 4, scene 3, lines 218–220. BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 2 times)
Thomas, William Bowyer (d. 1802) (mentioned 2 times)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Roscoe, William (1753–1831) (mentioned 1 time)
Carlisle, Anthony (1768–1840) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Cottles (mentioned 2 times)