Letter 5

To THOMAS FORBES KELSALL

10 Francis Street
Tottn Court Road
[Postmark April 12 1824]

DEAR KELSALL,–Here are Beddoes & I sitting together, wondering what the devil you can have to do at Southampton during this rainy weather, that can prevent your writing a full statement of your country grievances to us, your betters, in London. You neither toil nor spin. You neither drink wine nor kiss the women. You do not read law; you do not respect religion. Friendship is a shadow with you, & Love is not even a dream.

The truth is, Mr. Thomas Kelsall, that you are fond of your bed, of your breakfast, of reckoning up the faults of the virtuous (of us–‘the few’) & do not attend to the duties of your station, which are to commit your soul to paper (either in verse or prose) & send it (i.e. your soul) regularly by the Sunday’s post, as an example (in one shape or another) whereby we are to avoid the evil or recreate ourselves with good. Do you go to church at Southampton? Answer, upon your oath. And, if so, is it to establish your character amongst the tea drinking dowagers there? or to entrap the heedless into a belief that you are a lawyer? Out on such doings! Do I go to church? Yet I have 50 times the reason that you have, for I am really an orthodox man, whereas you are little better than one of the ignorant. I stay away, to write to my friends; a duty which it seems you neglect.

You can say nothing in return, to this, under four long sides of letter paper. I feel it, & you will feel it too–& so I counsel you to begin.

Beddoes–poor Beddoes! It would hurt your feelings sadly, were you to see him. He is—-but I must break it to you gently. You remember how gay he was (innocently gay) with a jibe always on his tongue, a mischievous eye, & locks curling like the hyacinth. Well what do you think has happened? He has lost–“his eye” I think I hear you say–No–not his eye. His mischievous propensities, then?–No, they are in full blossom. His innocent gaiety–No, again. He is as gay as usual, & I suppose as innocent. Why then what is the matter? Is he dead? or buried? No–he has got–“What?” (you interrupt me again)–a wife?–no, no. “A child?” no, no, no, no, I say. Why, then what, in the name of Sattan? Why,–a wig. It is a truth, melancholy, monstrous and scarcely to be believed did not I (who am more veracious than truth itself) affirm it. “Those hanging locks” like mine or the “young Apollo’s”–are clipt as close (closer than) Sampson’s. Write to me soon & at length

Yours very sincerely

B.W. Procter

DEAR KELSALL,–Comfort yourself with the assurance that Shelley is proceeding, and in due course of time and the Southampton coach will rise in full glory on Houndwell Lane. I can hardly write English, having bathed myself in Herodotus & Sophocles for the last fortnight; therefore I can only warn you against Procter’s news; he is in an iniquitously hoaxing fit, and has resolved to take in the “country-man” with some strange story of my having a perriwig of snakes, or a lion’s mane–the truth is that I have not had my head cut off as he seems to insinuate, nor am I any more like Bottom than usual. Rejoice! Baldwyn is publishing a new series of old Plays–but I forget–you prefer the fragrant pages of Lord Coke.

Yours ever

T.L. Beddoes

[The foregoing letter is written on the same sheet as that written by B.W. Procter and addressed to

THOMAS FORBES KELSALL Esqre
Houndwell Lane
Southampton]

[Gosse, 1894]