1103. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 4 September [1805]

1103. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 4 September [1805] ⁠* 

Dear Senhora

You possess the valuable works of Mrs. Cockburne. [1]  I pray you cast your finger thro her poemms – or pomes as Dr Anderson calls them, [2]  – if there be no one better or worse than another, copy then one of the shortest, – & frank it or direct it to G C Bedford Esq. Exchequer Westminster. simply intitling the contents – Specimen from Mrs Cockburne. They are all good-for-nothing certamente, but if there be one good enough in badness to be remarkable give that the preference.

Why do you not write to say you are coming? – you may if you please bring me your Italian Livy [3]  – for having no Latin one I should at times find it useful, – & the old Italian translations are very good.

Here is a world of entertainment for you in my books & my daughter within doors, & my mountains & lake without. Mine they are by the right of enjoyment. – I thank you for your hint about Llewelyn [4]  – say nothing of it to any one, for it shall not be lost, & secresy will be of service.

Your letter is arrived. if you leave home on the Monday, & travel as I did you will be here to tea on the next day. Call however at Wordsworths door – which you must pass. it is not impossible that I may be there.

Do not run about after trees wasting time. – there are trees here in plenty, tho the country is not well wooded as yet.

You will find no implements for drawing here except pencils, & the best of those are made here, for a very obvious reason. [5] 

Senhora when peace comes I want you to go with me to Amsterdam. [6]  I mean to go there for the sake of learning Dutch in the shortest & easiest way, – to travel thro the country & perhaps come down the Rhine – I am to make a book to pay my extra-expences – & you to make drawings for it & so pay yours. And you & I & Piggarel are all to smoke & talk Dutch together –

& so farewell – myne goede & aangenaame juffrow [7]  – I shall catch you hunting in the grammar for the English of that very civil salutation –


Wednesday. Sept. 4.


* Address: To/ Miss Barker/ Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 162–163
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Catherine Cockburn (nee Trotter) (1679–1749), dramatist, philosopher and poet. Southey wanted examples of her poetry to include in the anthology he was editing with Grosvenor Charles Bedford. See Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), II, pp. 119–123. BACK

[2] Robert Anderson (1749–1830; DNB), The Works of the British Poets (1792–1795), which included biographical and critical articles. The work consisted originally of thirteen volumes, to which a fourteenth was added in 1807. BACK

[3] Titus Livius (59 BC–AD 17) was a Roman historian whose Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Chapters from the Foundation of the City) covered the history of Rome from its early foundations to Livy’s own time. BACK

[4] Llewelyn ‘the Great’ (c. 1173–1240; DNB), Prince of Gwynedd and effective ruler of Wales in his later years, is a character in Southey’s Madoc (1805). BACK

[5] A lead mine at Seathwaite, Borrowdale, produced from 1555 a solid form of graphite used for the manufacture of pencils. They were especially valued by artists. BACK

[6] Southey did visit Amsterdam on his trip to the Continent in 1815. He wrote an account of the visit in his Journal of a Tour in the Netherlands in the Autumn of 1815 (1902). BACK

[7] Southey’s Dutch translates as ‘my good and esteemed lady’. BACK

People mentioned