3327. Robert Southey to Caroline Bowles, 27 June 1819

3327. Robert Southey to Caroline Bowles, 27 June 1819⁠* 

Keswick. 27 June. 1819

I have just received a note from Mrs Dart, [1]  in a frank from London, – & am vexed to perceive that she will leave London on the 29th – A letter from hence would not arrive till the 30th otherwise I would have written to assure her that I have not forgotten my schoolboy days, when I used to visit her on St James’s Parade. – & I would have inclosed my letter to you, – as the surest way of finding you. – This being impossible, I will get it franked to your Clifton address, – your direction will be known there, & the frank will retain its virtue wherever it may have to follow you.

Circumstances have made me postpone my journey to London till the fall of the leaf. – Your manuscript [2]  will be sent here to me, – it may be long on the way, – but as soon as it comes you shall hear from me concerning it. I go into Scotland in the beginning of August for four or five weeks. [3] 

As soon as your last letter from Clifton reached me, I wrote to Mr King, [4]  – he has not written to me in reply as I suggested, – but in this he is an habitual & incorrigible offender, – so I know not whether he has seen you, – but I shall be much surprized if he has not. – I know both the Bowles’s of whom you speak. I was at school with Frank Bowles, [5]  (so he was then called) – when I was one of the youngest boys in the school, he one of the eldest. My brother was a pupil of the Clergymans when he kept a school in the Lower Green at Bristol. [6]  I remember his (the Clergymans) wife [7]  before she was married. She was very intimate with my mother. This is going far back, – but my recollection goes farther. – I remember Mrs Dart before her marriage, – aye, more than forty years ago. Make my respects to her when you have an opportunity, & say that if her note had found me in London, I would have lost no time in calling upon her.

Farewell. I hope your health has been improved at Clifton.

R Southey.


* Address: [deletion and readdress in another hand] Oswestry July seventeen 1819/ Miss Bowles/ Wm Xxxxxxxx/ 19 Mall/ Clifton/ Bristol/ <Lymington/ Hants>/ CC Williams Wynn
Stamped: [partial] RISTO
Endorsement: 15 To Miss Caroline Bowles
MS: British Library, Add MS 47889. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Unidentified, but possibly connected to the Miss Dart who ran a boarding-house at 1 St James’s Parade, Bath in the 1790s. BACK

[2] A manuscript of Bowles’s blank verse, autobiographical poem ‘The Birth-Day’. It was never completed, but was published in 1836. BACK

[3] Southey’s tour of Scotland lasted from 17 August until 1 October 1819. For his record of events, see Journal of a Tour in Scotland in 1819, ed. Charles Harold Herford (1929). BACK

[4] See Southey to John King, [c. 21 May] 1819, Letter 3299. BACK

[5] Francis Cheyne Bowles (1771–1807). Born at Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, he was educated at home and at schools in Bristol, completing his medical training at St Thomas’s and Guy’s hospitals, London. Bowles became a surgeon at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1806, where he was a renowned teacher of anatomy. He is described thus in G. Munro Smith, A History of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (Bristol, 1917), p. 242: ‘He was always a hard worker, but in the early part of his life he combined work with a great deal of gaiety and social pleasure; afterwards he became serious-minded, and gave up many amusements, such as the theatre, of which he was very fond … The “Frank Bowles” of 1787, we are told, was a very different person from the “Mr. Bowles” of ten years later.’ BACK

[6] The schoolmaster and clergyman, Edward Bowles (c. 1760–1808), who was a cousin of Caroline Bowles’s. In the early 1790s he was Precentor and Minor Canon of Bristol Cathedral, and an assistant master at Bristol Grammar School; he lived at Lower College Green in the city. He was later Vicar of Marden (1793–1805) and Vicar of Bradford on Avon (1804–1808). BACK

[7] In 1786 Edward Bowles married Jane (b. 1756), the only daughter of the clergyman Thomas Middleton (d. 1782). BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)