3474. Robert Southey to Bertha Southey, 1 May 1820

3474. Robert Southey to Bertha Southey, 1 May 1820⁠* 

Monday. 1 May. 1820

My dear Bertha

As it is now your turn to have a letter, I address to you the information that I arrived safely this morning in Queen Anne Street, where I found all well, & a collection of letters & parcels awaiting me which it was quite frightful to behold, at the end of a journey. However the letter from Edith & your Mamma was among. I am now shifted that is to say, speaking more accurately in the masculine gender, shirted, & cleaned from head to foot, am full of breakfast, as Mr Green [1]  would say, & waiting till your Uncle Henry returns from his lecture to go out with him, & buy myself a new hat, which it is unanimously affirmed, is the first thing that must be done.

I left Mr Browne & Sarah yesterday morning at six o clock; – for notwithstanding my earnest objections, they would rise at five, & make me breakfast before I set out. Little Mary [2]  has sent you a small packet, containing I believe some bead necklaces of her own making. Nothing could exceed the kindness of all that family. Wade [3]  will be xxx nearly two years longer on his travels, & I have promised to procure for him letters to Lord Strangford [4]  at Constantinople, where letters to an Ambassador are of great importance, because they secure the bearer a safe place of retreat in case the plague should appear

What did I say to your Aunt Louisa? [MS obscured] tell her that you were a – no I have not told her that you [MS obscured] is very well, & so is your cousin Robert, [5]  a nice little boy with whi[MS obscured], & beautiful hazel eyes, – he is very slender & talks very prettily. I have not yet seen Charles. [6] Mr Bedford was to have breakfasted here, but he called in his regimentals at seven o clock, to say that he was ordered on duty, this being the day for the execution of those atrocious & wretched conspirators [7] 

Elizabeth <Catharine> Senhouse [8]  has got the small pox, & of a very bad sort; but it is supposed that like all the cases which have occurred after vaccination, it will stop at a certain stage of the disease. I shall call there with your Uncle presently; & one of my first visits also will be to Mr. Nash.


Tell your Mamma that I have seen the Rickmans, the Senhouses [9]  the Grand Dormouse, & the Peachys, & that General Peachy is amusing himself by learning Hebrew. Now I must dress, being terribly tired.

God bless you. My next letter will be to Kate. Kiss Cuthbert & tell him Pappa will be sure to bring home a pretty thing

Desire Edith to write & tell me how you all are.


* Address: To/ Miss Bertha Southey/ Keswick/ Cumberland
Postmark: xxxx/ 1820
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, WC 195. AL; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Possibly William Green (1761–1823; DNB), a Manchester surveyor, who devoted himself to producing drawings of Lake District scenery, with exhibitions at Ambleside and Keswick. BACK

[2] Mary Browne (dates unknown), Wade Browne’s only child from his second marriage. BACK

[3] Wade Browne (1796–1851), only son of Wade Browne; in later life a country gentleman at Monkton Farleigh in Wiltshire. BACK

[4] Percy Smythe, 6th Viscount Strangford (1780–1855; DNB), Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire 1820–1824. He had previously been Envoy Extraordinary to Portugal 1806–1808. BACK

[5] Henry Herbert Southey’s son, Robert Southey (b. 1817). BACK

[6] Henry Herbert Southey’s son, Charles Gonne Southey (1819–1861), later a soldier in India. BACK

[7] Five of the Cato Street conspirators were hanged at Newgate Gaol on 1 May 1820: Arthur Thistlewood (1774–1820; DNB), Richard Tidd (1775–1820; DNB), James Ings (c. 1785–1820; DNB), William Davidson (1781–1820; DNB), and John Brunt (1782–1820; DNB). Grosvenor Bedford was a member of the yeomanry regiment, the London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers. BACK

[8] Catherine Senhouse (d. 1853), daughter of Humphrey Senhouse. BACK

[9] John Rickman and Humphrey Senhouses and their families. BACK

Places mentioned


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