[with:] "Poems of the Laureate", manuscript essay by Bedford on the poetry of Robert Southey, 58 pages, 4to, c.1816
[also with:] Robert Southey, autograph manuscript poem, "The Devils Thought" ("From his brimstone bed at break of day..."), 57 lines, 3 pages, 4to, split
Bedford was himself the author of poems, essays, and reviews, and literary affairs figure largely in his diaries. He details a conversation with William Gifford during the very early days of the Quarterly Review (principally complaining about the behaviour of John Murray). On 20 May 1810 he notes that he “finished Wordsworth’s verbose & unintelligible preface to his silly lyrical ballads”. Nevertheless he spent the latter part of that summer with Southey in the Lake District, a trip which included a conversation with Coleridge about dreams (24 July 1810) and many other excursions (“Walked with Southey to the Druid’s Temple on the Road to Penrith...”, 14 August 1810). In later years he attended many of Coleridge's lectures, which he describes in his diary in some detail, as well as such events as Southey's swearing in as Laureate on 4 November 1813.
Bedford had a keen interest in visual art. He describes many visits to galleries, private houses and auction rooms (“Went to Christie’s to see 8 large Pictures by Murillo...from the Convent of St Felix ... in Spain ... The subjects were legendary the drawings colouring and composition exceeding fair...”, 8 June 1810). Often he was in company with Francis Chantrey and his regular visits to the latter's home provide many insights into Chantrey's work (24 December 1828 “To Chantrey’s in the morning – he is preparing the mold for casting the statue of Pitt”, 24 December 1828). Bedford was himself a keen amateur painter and often describes his own sketching of landscapes and other subjects.
Antiquarianism was another area in which Bedford took a keen interest. He records the opening of many ancient tombs, from the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey (1 March 1811) to the discovery of Walter Ralegh's tomb (19 February 1821). He collected curiosities (such as the Duke of Wellington's campaign cloak, sold in these rooms 14 July 2015, lot 24), saw fossils at the Liverpool Museum (21 June 1810), a petrified human skeleton at the British Museum, and inspected a prison. Bedford also took an interest in scientific discoveries, describing medical curiosities, his attendance at operations, and also public experiments: “went to the exhibition at the Lyceum of certain Illuminations produced by smoke – The secret consists in separating the pure hydrogen from the other substances involved in the combination of coals” (11 August 1804). The diary is also a record of public events, from Lord Camelford’s death in a duel, the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars, to the unrest in the years preceding the Reform Act of 1832. His friendship with politicians ensured that his record of political events are well-informed, and the diary is replete with detail of goings-on at the Exchequer.
Of course the diary also provides a fascinating portrait of Bedford himself. For all his sociability he suffered bouts of depression (“...my only respite is in sleep, which like the Hindus I think the second best thing in nature – dissipation is useless and unsatisfactory...”). Bedford never married and the diary includes many intimations of a complex inner-life, such as when he describes breaking down when visiting the tomb of “the most loved friend I have had in my life” (15 November 1807). His final years were beset by ill-health, clearly visible in the trembling handwriting as well as in poignant entries in the diary itself ("...The imaginary voices have come upon me again spontaneously...”, 2 March 1837)
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