619. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 October 1801

619. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 20 October 1801 ⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I expect to see you soon. in less than three weeks – as soon as distance by land & by water, allowing for an


up to Keswick, will permit. Mr Corry & I have only past thro the preliminaries of a bow &c take-by-the-hand, for he is moving off in such a hurry that I do not receive livery & seisin of the secretarian pen till we reach London.

Grosvenor if you should think of writing a book as Ovid [1]  has done, concerning metamorphoses, probably my transformation into a man of business may find a place there. – I am reconciled to my lot inasmuch as the neighbourhood of Dublin is very lovely – & in John Rickmans society I feel little want of any other. he & I like a whale & a man are of the same genus tho with many great specific differences. If he lives long enough I expect to see him one of the greatest & most useful men whom our country has produced. he bends every thing to practice, his very various knowledge is always brought to bear upon some point of general importance & his situation will now give him the power of producing public benefit.

I have spent the first days of my new era, characteristically & to my satisfaction, as on my arrival Mr Corry was absent – what did I but opened Madoc [2]  & commenced the great labour of rebuilding it. when Mr C returned, & I found myself at leisure – I went on with my work – so that I have done something in Ireland.

Howbeit Grosvenor to all that my situation requires I am equal. punctuality is my pride, method almost my hobby horse – & I am not deficient in activity. leisure enough will be left me, & tho my invitation runs only for a year – if I may believe John Rickman – I am in the road to fortune – a clean road Grosvenor, & not a very long way. Huzza! I have had my ups & downs upon this ocean of the world – but & have no objection to cast anchor in port.

For the first year my income will not be increased. it will amount about to the same as my usual receipt augmented by my own brain-breeding. but my shoulders are lighter Grosvenor – look at the picture in the Pilgrims Progress. [3]  What happened to Xtian when he saw the cross? he put nothing in his pocket either.

Am I not in right healthy spirits? – & yet they will mend when I get home. it is not good for man to be alone – & tho it were good, it would not be agreable.

Where should I lodge in town to be near Great George Street? I think the River streets from the Strand are not too far. & a more important question – shall I know as much of you when we are in the same place – as when half the island seperates us? – now Grosvenor make you a good resolution – & look you keep it.

Send me a letter to Keswick with a shake by the hand inclosed.

Oh – I had almost forgotten two points of antiquity. It is the opinion of Coleridge that the Irish are descended from certain aboriginals who escaped the deluge in a cock boat, that rested upon Mount Taurus. – my own idea is that they are of Cretan race – the descendants of Pasiphae. [4] 

R Southey.

Tuesday. Oct. 20. 1801.


* Endorsements: 20. Octor 1801; 20 Oct 1801
MS: Bodleian Library, Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 174-176. BACK

[1] Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC- AD 17/18), Metamorphoses. BACK

[2] Southey had completed a version of Madoc in 1797-1799 and was revising it for publication. It did not appear until 1805. BACK

[3] John Bunyan (1628-1688; DNB), The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678-1684). When Christian saw the Cross his burden fell into the sepulchre. BACK

[4] Both these stories connect the Irish to bulls. Taurus was the name of a bull in Greek mythology. Pasiphae, Queen of Crete, fell in love with him and their child was the Minotaur. BACK

People mentioned

Corry, Isaac (1753–1813) (mentioned 3 times)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 2 times)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 2 times)
35 Strand, London (mentioned 1 time)
Dublin (mentioned 1 time)