13 Nov. 1830

Letter 33


13 November 1830

Florence. 13 Novr 1830.

My dear Severn,

We all want to know how the lady and the young gentleman2 are going on. Perhaps I was bound to write earlier, — time has slipped away; of course we arrived safe and sound. The Wilsons3 are here, and have engaged for an apartment, while I do my best in putting them up to Florentine management. I was surprised, on my return, to hear that the hotels were full of English; it appears they are for the most part of the middling classes, — "pochi signoroni,"4 — and we have an army of native servants out of place, with their families, I am told, in great distress; — besides which, there are a great many furnished lodgings to be let. Carlino has begun music, which will put 60 crowns a year into the Florentines’ pockets, — see what a charitable man am I! As the vettura dragged me along the road, I discovered why Monsr Robert’s5 picture is at fault: there were a man and a girl standing on a bank, backed by a clear sky; though very near them, I could not distinguish their features, scarcely their forms, owing to their being cut to pieces by myriads of rays of light; but, as we moved on, they became backed by a house, when, in a moment, they were as distinct as in Robert’s picture, which proved to me he had (to speak Irish-wise) committed an impossibility. This must have been the reason of our feeling that his picture was out of nature; but since neither Uwins nor you explained it to me, I do the needful by you. While I was away Kirkup had literally done nothing to his picture; never was a fellow like him for sticking fast in a work. I found Trelawny nursing his little girl, his attendant having left him. She is the most respectable servant I have met with in Italy; and, were you not provided, I would recommend her to you, — she is a good sempstress, and an excellent nurse. Now mind you let me know how Mrs Severn is, and tell us if Claudia has picked up a bit. Carlino sends his love to all parties. I did not much approve of your boasted fish sauce; and, as I have made the best essence of anchovies I ever tasted, here is the receipt. Put 24 anchovies, as they come from the barrel with their proportion of liquor, in a small pan, and pour two tumblers of water on them; scale, bone, behead, betail, and wash them in that water, leaving all the bones, heads &c therein, which should be boiled (covered) for <three> two hours and then strained; then put on the strained liquor again to boil with the anchovies cut into very little bits; boil (covered) for two hours and strain again, and pound in a mortar the parts of the fish that remain in the sieve till perfectly smooth, — then mix all together. If you wish the sauce to be of a darker red, boil a little pounded cochineal with it. A table spoonfull of brandy may be added to keep it. Give this receipt and my love to Mrs Severn. Remembrances to the Leaches, Gibson, Uwins, and all I like in Rome. N. B. In Florence a glass the size of Fabri’s Sistine chapel engravings costs only 10 pauls, — so I think I shall treat myself to the whole set.

Your’s most truly,
           Chas Brown.


1 Address: Al Pittore Inglese / Il Sig. Guiseppe Severn, / No 152 Via Rasella, / Roma. Postmarks: FIRENZE; 15 NOVEMBRE. [Return to the letter]

2 Walter Severn placed a cross here and wrote the following above the salutation, which was later crossed out, probably by Sharp: "Refers to me / I was born 12 Oct. 30 / Walter Severn." Below this Sharp wrote, "745." [Return to the letter]

3 Charles Wilson (1809-1882), art administrator and educationist. He married on 3 October 1838 (Oxford DNB). [Return to the letter]

4 "Mini milords." [Return to the letter]

5 Louis-Leopold Robert (1794-1835), French painter of Italian genre scenes. [Return to the letter]