2816. Robert Southey to Dawson Turner, 24 June 1816

2816. Robert Southey to Dawson Turner, 24 June 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 24 June


Your letter of the third has reached me by this day’s post. I cannot but feel honored by the compliment which Mrs Turner [1]  has paid me, as gratified by the manner in which you notice the recent loss of my son,  [2]  You who have experienced the nature of such an affliction [3]  (& none can tell what it is but those who have experienced it) know also that under all afflictions there is but one source of consolation. The loss which, in its kind, is common to all parents has been, in its degree, peculiarly severe, because the boy was in every thing what my heart desired: so entirely so, that I had often gazed upon him with the ominous feelings that he was fitter for a better world than this. In that world we shall meet; & as this dispensation contributes to fix my heart & hopes more fervently upon a future state, I feel & acknowledge its use.

You will oblige Mrs Southey & myself if, when an opportunity offers, you will have the goodness to send a few impressions of the etching [4]  to my brother Dr Southey, 15, Queen Ann St, Cavendish Square. The observations which my family make upon it are that the eye is too small, & that the eyebrows & forehead are both unlike: my forehead having no depression, & my eyebrows being remarkable regular. Every person here is struck with its resemblance to Bellingham, [5]  of whom we possess a likeness etched by Dawe: [6]  it was noticed at the time of the unhappy man’s appearance of the public, that he was singularly like Sir Francis Burdett; & there is that sort of likeness between Sir Francis Burdett & myself, that my brother once purchased a caricature of Sir Francis supposing it had been designed for me.

Should any circumstances bring you & Mrs Turner to the Land of Lakes, I trust you will do me the favor of comparing the original to the portrait. Should I ever visit the Eastern counties again, I will not fail to avail myself of your kind invitations.

Believe me, Sir,

Yours very thankfully & with sincere respect

Robert Southey


* MS: Trinity College, Cambridge, Dawson Turner Papers, Correspondence. The letter survives in an undated copy in an unknown hand, probably a member of the Turner family; it is endorsed ‘Original is among Autographs Series A’, and is placed after a copy of Mary Dawson Turner’s 1815 etching of Southey. TR; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Mary Dawson Turner (1775–1850), a keen artist, particularly skilled in etching. She was tutored by John Crome (1768–1821; DNB) and later by John Sell Cotman (1782–1842; DNB). BACK

[2] Herbert Southey had died on 17 April 1816. BACK

[3] Three of the Turners’ eleven children had died in infancy. BACK

[4] Mary Dawson Turner’s etching of Southey (1815). It was based on the portrait by Thomas Phillips (1770–1845; DNB) and is in the National Portrait Gallery. BACK

[5] John Bellingham (1770–1812; DNB), who had assassinated Spencer Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons in 11 May 1812. He was executed on 18 May 1812. BACK

[6] George Dawe (1781–1829; DNB). Dawe had stayed at Greta Hall in autumn 1812 whilst he worked on the 9 foot by 8 foot canvas ‘Mother Rescuing her Child from an Eagle’s Nest’. The portrait owned by the Southeys was possibly Dawe’s pencil sketch ‘Study of John Bellingham’. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)