13 Dec. 1828

Letter 29


13 December 1828

Florence. 13 Decr 1828.

My dear Severn,

Your two stoves will be despatched in a few days. They will be under the charge of Ginori’s2 own Vetturale, to whom you are to pay the account, upon his delivering the stoves at your house. They are not yet weighed, therefore I cannot tell you what the charge will be, but the rate is fixed at 11 pauls per 100 lbs.

It is very odd, as I have before explained to you the nature of our post office, that you will not agree to address your letters "Posta restante". You used to do so, but then, all at once, you chose the other mode. You did worse the last time, for you addressed it to Kirkup’s house, whence it was returned with a "non c’è piú"3 upon it, and lay in the office for four days before I could obtain it. None of my letters ever miscarried, when addressed "Posta restante." Are you sure that you wrote to me, before the 6th Decr, after your return to Rome? Or did you only intend it? Or did the passage respecting the stoves, addressed to me, in Kirkup’s letter, make you imagine that you had written a letter to me?

Charley sends his love to both of you, — as he expresses himself. I, more genteelly, request you will give a kiss, for my sake, to Mrs Severn;4 and whisper in her ear that I should like to roam to Rome to see her at home.

Lady W. must certainly be crazy.5 Now, however, as you have gone through all the nuisance and trouble of cutting acquaintanceship, I think you are right in not submitting to a revival of it. But you have others in Rome a thousand times more crazy than she can be. Such facts have come to my ears! Such goings on among your evangelicals and methodists! They are adopting every species of underhand means for the purpose of converting the Catholics, and I sincerely hope they will be discovered, and turned out of Rome. I have even heard they have a private printing-press there. Now these hypocrites, who scream out against those who dare to differ from the established creed in England, are doing the same, and worse, with their tracts translated into Italian, in another country, and under the nose of the very head of the Catholic religion.6

I have written to Dilke, as you told me, that he will have his picture before New year’s day.7

Kirkup has not been doing any thing particular lately; but he is preparing for something. Landor and family are very well. They would have something to say, if they knew of my writing. Notwithstanding my envy of your happiness, almost amounting to a wish, on my part, to try my luck, yet I will, if you think it may be an addition to your table comforts, send you some of the cooking receipts from Dr Kitchener’s books,8 which I have tried, and found excellent. For instance, Curry powder, and such savoury matters. I will give you one now, as this is the proper season for horse-radish: Half fill a bottle with scraped horse radish; add a little pepper to your liking, and, if you choose, a very little garlick; fill up the bottle with the best vinegar, let it stand ten days, shaking it every day, and strain it. This will cost a very few bagocchi[?]9 , and is one of the Dr’s best relishes, with the advantage of being remarkably wholesome. Let it be called "Brown’s barba forte!"10

I hope Mrs Severn has got quite rid of her cold. We have had cold enough here, but I have not caught any of it.

Your’s most sincerely,
           Chas Brown.


1 Above the salutation Sharp has penciled, "695-6." Address: Al Pittore Inglese, / Il Sig. Giuseppe Severn, / No 22 Vicolo de’ Marroniti, / Roma. Postmarks: FIRENZE; 15 DECEMBRE. [Return to the letter]

2 The firm was founded by Carlo Ginori (1701-1757), of a noble Florentine family, who brought in artworks and artifacts from Asia to decorate his villa at Doccia. In company with a group of merchants from Livorno he developed trade with the east and with America (Francesco Inghirami Storia della Toscana, The History of Tuscany [1844] vol. 13: 154). [Return to the letter]

3 "No longer here." [Return to the letter]

4 Severn married Elizabeth Montgomerie (1803-1862), on October 7 in the private chapel of the British Mission to the Court of Tuscany in Florence. It was immediately after the marriage that Brown first got to know and like her (Stillinger 279). [Return to the letter]

5 Although Lady Westmorland witnessed Severn’s marriage to Elizabeth Montgomerie, it led to an immediate breach as she attempted to blacken the character of her ex-ward (Scott 290). Joseph and Elizabeth Severn were not reconciled to Lady Westmorland for seven years. See "My tedious Life" (Scott 659). [Return to the letter]

6 For Severn’s lurid account of counter-attempts by Catholics in Rome to effect Protestant conversions, see "Incidents of My Life" (Sharp 294-296). [Return to the letter]

7 See 2 Nov. 1826, n2 and 16 Aug. 1828, n5. [Return to the letter]

8 William Kitchiner (1775?-1827), optician, inventor of telescopes, amateur musician and cook. His most popular book, reprinted many times, was Apicius Redivivus, or The Cook’s Oracle (Edinburgh, 1817). [Return to the letter]

9 Lagocchi? [Return to the letter]

10 "Brown’s strong beard." Sharp scored through the recipe with three diagonal pencil strokes. [Return to the letter]