402. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 27 April 1799

402. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 27 April 1799 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

Tom & I expect to be in town together to breakfast on Tuesday morning, at the Saracens head, Friday Street, Cheapside [1]  Side. I will call at the Exchequer [2]  as near one as I can. before that time we shall have made our arrangements. Tom expects to stay in London but a few days. if Burnett will walk with me I shall eat my dinners [3]  & walk off. Burnett arrives in town from Yarmouth at the same time with us. if he will not ramble & you have a bed at Brixton I will buy a Dutch Grammar & study Jacob Cats. [4]  with my present feelings – it is almost ten o clock & I am tired hand & foot with walking & reviewing – I should look on with more satisfaction to reading & translating Dutch poetry than to wandering over the mountain sublimity of Switzerland. I want books & quietness – the less fatigue the better, & the less mental emotion. agitation is become painful.

I shall bring Madoc with me. 12 books are written out of 15. [5]  should I be your guest at Brixton it will be the second epic poem that I shall finish there. [6]  I wish to read it to you, if you can bear the almost improvisatore tone of one to whose manner of reading you are not accustomed.

Tom is recovered. I am not – & this is my ill time. however I begin to sleep well without opiates, & hope to be soon as drowsy ever as ever at the hour of owl-rising.

I want to be introduced to Pye – & for the same reason fancy he would like to be introduced to me, that we <may> talk about Alfred. [7]  never did I go to London with the prospect of seeing so many friends – yet never did I leave home with more reluctance. exertion, fatigue, alteration are hateful to me. my sensations are such that like certain politicians I think all changes must be needs for the worse.

Now I have no wish for the fortnights vacancy but your library every morning & you every evening. tomorrow I shall think again of my knapsack & a ramble.

Good night.

yrs – huzza! as sleepily as ever

Robert Southey

Saturday night. 27 Apr. 99.


* Address: To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer/ London/ Single
Postmarks: [partial] BR/ AP; B/AP/ 29/ 99
Endorsement: 27 April. 1799
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] An inn in London. BACK

[2] Bedford’s place of work. BACK

[3] Southey was still – nominally – studying law. He needed to dine at Gray’s Inn in order to fulfil the terms of his legal studies. BACK

[4] The Dutch statesman and poet, Jacob Cats (1577–1660). BACK

[5] Southey completed a fifteen-book version of Madoc in 1797-1799; the poem was heavily revised before its publication in 1805. BACK

[6] The first was Joan of Arc, the original draft of which was completed at the Bedfords’ home in Brixton in 1793. BACK

[7] The Poet Laureate Henry James Pye (1745–1813; DNB), whose Alfred, An Epic Poem in Six Books was published in 1801. BACK

People mentioned

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Yarmouth (mentioned 1 time)