723. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 October [1802]

723. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 5 October [1802] ⁠* 

Dear Grosvenor

I was absent when your last letter arrived – hunting a house in South Wales – for after all Cumberland will not do – & if my present treaty [1]  end well – you will be a nearer neighbour by a hundred miles.

first to my picture. Keenan [2]  painted it – then lodging at a Mr Kleboes [3]  (name on the door) Gerard Street – Soho. he means to exhibit it next year. I do not wish it to be engraved – I should object to it – unless Keenan got enough by it to remedy the objection on that account – for he is a worthy man struggling with the world.

next – no by the Lord – something else first. your friend Smith [4]  desired me to send him all my operas. [5]  he returned me a very handsome letter & two ten pound notes.

next then – I shall & will go on with Kehama [6]  – & will send you it by letters full – & will begin the first letter forthwith & without delay, & will write you all the primary ideas about it – & you shall have the first letter by Saturday – So help me – Amen. But history [7]  has almost monopolized me – & you know I have a money getting job [8]  in hand – a sixty pound piece of journeywork that massacres a good deal of time else I should have raised my hurricane before now, & made my Glendouver, & ridden my Crocodile, & set my Temple on Fire & perhaps have gone to Hell – & turned Heaven topsy-turvy. [9] 

I am sorry about the old house at Brixton. for I have known it long enough to regret its going to a stranger. [10] 

Oh send me the snake necklace.

Hero & Leander [11]  – I will send you piecemeals about them. for I have never had all my books at hand to connect an account – & when you think there are enough they may be tacked together.

I care not so much what you are about – as that you should be about something – some classical business probably of more self-amusement than use. that sort of literature is like the ring in Hyde Park [12]  – I would ride thro it once – & no more. there is nothing to glean there.

You guess right. I do most villainously miscall young Margaret. her usual name is the Doctor. for as Doctor Dodd [13]  made his exit in like manner did she enter – all alive & kicking. the Doddity of her motion discovers itself when she is being washed & dressed, to most advantage. She can make as much noise as I can almost – I sing to her till she cries – N.B. this was <is> a philosophical experiment. tickle her nose with a feather to teach her sensations, & put my thumb in her mouth – because it must be as nice as her own. What a change in a house & in the whole oeconomy does one of these helpless little ones make!

I have been to visit my rich Uncle at Taunton. a strange old man whom I had not seen for six & twenty years. he was very civil, & I was somewhat made melancholy to see a man of good sense & good feeling whose affections & talents are all rusted & ruined & whose death will cost no tear to any living being.

Toms remembrance. Ediths also.

God bless you.


Tuesday. Oct 5. 1801.


* Address: To/ G C Bedford Esqr/ Exchequer / Westminster
Postmark: [partial] BRISTOL/ OCT 5
Endorsement: 5 Octbr 1801
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 23. ALS; 3p.
Dating note: Misdated 1801 by Southey. BACK

[1] Southey was negotiating a lease on a house called Maes Gwyn, near Neath. BACK

[2] John Keenan (fl. 1780-1819), Irish painter. He had met Southey in Exeter in 1799. BACK

[3] Unidentified. BACK

[4] Thomas Woodroffe Smith (c. 1747-1811), a wealthy Quaker merchant who lived at Stockwell Park, Surrey, near the Bedfords. In 1789 he married, as his second wife, Anne Reynolds (dates unknown) of Carshalton. BACK

[5] i.e. all of Southey’s published works. BACK

[6] The Curse of Kehama, published in 1810. Southey had begun drafting Book 2 on 4 June 1802. BACK

[7] Southey’s unfinished ‘History of Portugal’. BACK

[8] Southey’s translation of Amadis of Gaul (1803). BACK

[9] Incidents in The Curse of Kehama. BACK

[10] The Bedfords had presumably sold their house in Brixton, near London, the place where in 1793 Southey had completed the first draft of Joan of Arc. BACK

[11] Tragic lovers from Greek mythology whose story had been popular with poets and dramatists. Bedford had published a translation of Musaeus’ (fl. c. early 6th century) The Loves of Hero and Leander (1797). BACK

[12] A part of Hyde Park, London, much used by horses and carriages and a popular recreation place for the fashionable. BACK

[13] Dr William Dodd (1729-1777; DNB), clergyman and man of letters who was hanged for forgery – hence his exit ‘alive & kicking’. BACK

Places mentioned

Maes Gywn, Neath (mentioned 1 time)