3486. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 25 May 1820

3486. Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 25 May 1820⁠* 

Thursday Morning

My dear Edith

Before I go to breakfast with Rogers, I write a few lines, merely to say that I rescued your last letter out of the twopenny post yesterday at the moment when it was setting off for Streatham, & thereby saved myself from a days anxiety. Thank God that the children have got well thro a disease [1]  which I have always dreaded, well knowing how formidable it is, & always remembering my sister Eliza.

Say to the children that I will return the last week in June. – Today I dine at Coppendales, [2]  tomorrow with David Jardine. Saturday I go to Cambridge expecting to return in a few days. Sunday the 4 I am engaged to dine with Mr Canning, whom I met at Courtenays. – Yesterday I dined at Mrs Bills & met Miss MacTaggart [3]  there. They talked a great deal about Edith. John Dolignon [4]  is coming to town, & I have promised to go with him for a day to Theobalds to see good old Mrs Delamere, [5]  who is very desirous of seeing me once more. George Strachey is arrived & we have called upon each other, but not have not met.

I was at Streatham when you supposed me to be at Richmond. My visit to John May was put off, because William Heathcote had obtained leave of absence from Oxford, purposely to meet me at my Uncles. His mother [6]  is there, & Mr Awdry, his eldest daughter [7]  & Alethea. [8] 

It is now time to start, & whether I shall be able to add any thing to this hasty scrawl in the course of the day is very doubtful. – Kenyon I believe will go with me to Cambridge.

Tell the girls [9]  that something more extraordinary than a Cathedral [10]  is coming to Keswick. A young Florentine of the Medici family, his name Peruzzi. [11]  I tremble for Mr Kennaway [12]  & Mr Noel when he appears.

God bless you all.



* Address: [in another hand] London/ Twenty fifth May/ – 1820 –/ Mrs R Southey/ Keswick/ Cumberland/ For/ J Rickman
Postmark: FREE/ 25 MAY/ 1820
Endorsement: 25 May 1820
MS: British Library, Add MS 47888. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Southey children had contracted measles. BACK

[2] Thomas Coppendale (d. 1833), the uncle and business partner of John May. BACK

[3] Unidentified. A ‘Mrs McTaggart’ had passed through Keswick in 1814 on her way to visit George Murray (1784–1860; DNB), Bishop of Sodor and Man 1813–1827, Bishop of Rochester 1827–1860; see Southey to Herbert Hill, 16 October 1814, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Four, Letter 2487. It is possible that these MacTaggarts were connected to Andrew Bell’s close friend, the Scottish shipowner, John MacTaggart of Ardwell (1756–1810). The latter’s daughter-in-law, Susanna McTaggart, née Kymer (1784–1864), was the wife of Sir John MacTaggart (1789–1867), MP for Wigton Boroughs 1835–1857. BACK

[4] John Dolignon (1774–1856), son of Elizabeth Dolignon, at whose home, Theobalds, Hertfordshire, Southey had spent much time in the holidays from Westminster School. He and Southey had been very close friends. Dolignon was Rector of Wimbish, Essex 1816–1838, and of Hilborough, Norfolk 1838–1856. BACK

[5] Mary Delamere (1740–1820), sister of Elizabeth Dolignon. Southey did not make this visit to Theobalds. BACK

[6] Elizabeth Heathcote (1773–1855), Herbert Hill’s sister-in-law. BACK

[7] One of Herbert Hill’s brothers-in-law, the solicitor John Jeremiah Awdry (1766–1844), and the latter’s eldest daughter Jane (1797–1872). BACK

[8] Alethea Bigg (1777–1847), another sister-in-law of Herbert Hill. BACK

[9] Edith May, Bertha, Isabel and Kate Southey and their cousin Sara Coleridge. BACK

[10] ‘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

[11] The Peruzzi were a famous family of Florentine bankers, like the Medici. Their bank had collapsed in 1345, but members of the family remained prominent in the life of Florence down to the nineteenth century. Which member of the Peruzzi family intended to visit Keswick is unidentified. BACK

[12] Either John Kennaway (1797–1873) of Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A. 1821), who later succeeded to his father’s baronetcy; or his brother Charles Edward Kennaway, a student at St John’s College, Cambridge (B.A. 1822). Both had visited the Southeys in Keswick. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Streatham (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)