3482. Robert Southey to Isabel Southey, 13 May 1820

3482. Robert Southey to Isabel Southey, 13 May 1820⁠* 

My dear Isabel

I have just received Bertha’s letter; & begin this to you while I am waiting for Mr Westall (to whom one of your shoulders belongs) with whom I am going this morning to Mr Longmans, upon his business. And I have laid aside a great volume of Portugueze manuscripts [1]  upon which I am very busy, to write to you; meaning to buy Cuthberts book this morning, & get Mr Rickman to frank it at dinner time.

Tho your cousin Robert [2]  here is three years old, he is not so heavy as Cuthbert; & Cuthbert while he was called Og [3]  was bigger than Charles [4]  is now. But both Robert & Charles are very nice children, & they are very good friends with me, tho I do not see much of them. Your Welsh Uncle Alfred is very much improved. When I was last in town he had a sad cast of the eye, which he has almost recovered from: he is still odd-looking & very shy, but be continues to improve, & is quick at his book. Little Georgiana is a fine healthy handsome girl, with beautiful eyes, like her grandmother & little Southey, as he is always called, is also a noble child. I have not yet seen the Duke & the Marquis & the Earl, but on Monday week I shall go from Richmond to see them at their school.

On Wednesday last [5]  I was at Court. O Isabel if you had seen how grand I was that day, when I went to visit the King. I had no powder in my hair, that being no longer required at a levee, but I had a bag, & lace at my shirt, & lace ruffles, & gold buckles in my [6]  shoes, & at my knees, & a full dressed coat, waistcoat & breeches, & a sword by my side, & a cocked hat in my hand. Think Isabel how grand I must have been! The Palace was so full that the crowd was as great as it was when your Mamma & I went to see the illumination at M. Ottos house; [7]  & tho every body kissed the Kings hand, this was done so rapidly, that there were sixteen presentations in a minute. If the crowd had not been so great, the sight would have been very fine, as fine, or finer than Bluebeard or Timour the Tartar. [8] 

I am busy from morning till night, & very much tired with visiting every day, walking about so much & seeing so many people. So you must not wonder if I should not have time to finish this sheet, nor if I cannot write so nice a letter as that from Streatham, where I had time & leisure. Tell your Aunt Coleridge that of all people in the world Joey Lock [9]  called upon me yesterday to claim acquaintance as an old friend. Catherine Senhouse [10]  is getting well very fast, & will not be marked. The other children show no symptoms of having taken the complaint nor is it expected that they will. Here is Mr Westall.


<I have bought> Here is a book for Cuthbert. Tell him Pappa sends it because he is a good boy: & that Pappa will come home & bring pretty things for him! – Aunt Lovell must ask Mrs Crothers to raise the seeds in a hot bed; & give her a couple of plants which will be enough for our use. [11] 

Now I must dress for dinner, that I may be in time to get this franked. Love to all

God bless you

Your affectionate father

Robert Southey.

Saturday 13 May.

Q Anne Street

I must send off this letter without the book & the seeds for fear of being too late, & of making it too heavy. But I will send the book by the next post. Tell your Mamma that I sent the rent to Morrison on Monday the 8th. You may be sure that I will not forget the prayer-books, & the pickle, & every thing else that I promised. I saw Mr Townsend the other day; he is going to Keswick this year as a Cathedral. [12]  & so is Mr Noel.

Ah cruel term, but gentle long vacation,
That sends all the men again for our xxxxx<consol>ation!

I know who will sing that song. Mr Nash is coming down with me. Be sure you take care of his shoulder, & of Mr Westalls.


* Address: To/ Miss Isabel Southey/ Keswick/ Cumberland
Postmark: [partial] MY
Endorsement: May 13th 1820/ R. Southey to/ Isabel Southey
MS: Bristol Reference Library, SR4 pb Southey MSS, B22438. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 212–213. BACK

[1] The ‘Preface’ to the History of Brazil (1822) [unpaginated], thanked Archibald Constable (1774–1827; DNB), Scottish publisher, bookseller and stationer, for ‘a collection of original dispatches from the home Government to D. Luiz de Sousa, during his administration of Brazil’. Luis de Sousa, Conde do Prado (c. 1580–1643), was Governor-General of Brazil 1617–1621 in the reign of Philip III (1578–1621; King of Spain and Portugal 1598–1621). This manuscript had been brought to Southey’s attention by James Gooden, and Constable had agreed to purchase it and let Southey make use of it for his History of Brazil. BACK

[2] Robert Southey (b. 1817), son of Henry Herbert Southey. BACK

[3] Og, an Old Testament giant in Deuteronomy 3: 11. BACK

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

[5] Southey attended a court levée on 10 May 1820, the first held by George IV since he succeeded to the throne. BACK

[6] Margaret Bradford (1710–1782), who was also Southey’s grandmother. BACK

[7] Louis-Guillaume Otto, Comte de Mosloy (1753–1817), the French diplomat responsible for negotiating the Peace of Amiens (signed 25 March 1802). His residence in London was illuminated as part of the celebrations; see Letters from England: By Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, 3 vols (London, 1807), I, pp. 89, 93–95. Southey and Edith, who had been living in London at that time, had gone to see the illuminations; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 10 May 1802, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Two, Letter 675. BACK

[8] The legendary French wife-murderer, Bluebeard, created by Charles Perrault (1628–1703) in Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passé (1697); and Timur [Tamerlane] (d. 1405), founder of the Timurid Empire in central Asia. They were both the subjects of popular dramas: George Colman, the Younger (1762–1836; DNB), Blue-Beard; or Female Curiosity (1798), and Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775–1818; DNB), Timour, the Tartar (1811). BACK

[9] Unidentified, but possibly an old acquaintance from Bristol. BACK

[10] Catherine Senhouse (d. 1853), daughter of Humphrey Senhouse. She had been suffering from smallpox. BACK

[11] Wade Browne had given Southey some marrow seeds when he stayed with the Brownes in Ludlow on the way to London. BACK

[12] ‘Cathedrals’ was the name given in Keswick and its environs to young men from the University of Cambridge who visited the Lakes in study parties. It arose, initially, from a ‘comical confusion’ between ‘Collegian’ and ‘College’, and, later, between ‘College’ and ‘Cathedral’; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19–20 August 1821, Letter 3715. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Streatham (mentioned 1 time)