3265. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 13 March 1819

3265. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 13 March 1819 ⁠* 

Keswick. 13 March. 1819

Doctor doctissime!

Lying-in in out-of-the-way places is at this time so common in this country, that I think we have a chance of hearing from you, almost as soon as of seeing Mr Edmondson: & therefore I write to say that Edith is crippled with a swoln leg; xxx it is pretty much at ease in bed or on the sofa, but she cannot walk except by dragging the foot, & that with much pain. About a week after the delivery she had great pain in the left leg, – the effect of exertion during a ten hours severe labour, this went off in three or four day, the affection then began in the other leg, & has now taken this oedematous form. [1]  Two days ago Edmondson sent xx a linement of camphor, turpentine & I know not what, – since that time we have not seen him, & the swelling has increased & become more decidedly oedematous. Her general health is good, nor is there any thing to complain of in any other respect.

I may also report to you, as perhaps you may not have met with a similar instance, the case of young Irontripes. He began by regular motions every 24 hours, but chusing when he about 10 days old to stop for 36 it was then thought proper to give him some castor oil – which remained in him 12 hours more – & then produced two motions, – but without any appearance of induration [2]  in the feces. He then stopt for 48 hours more. I was very unwilling to physic him, seeing him to all appearance perfectly well, comfortable, & thriving. And luckily I bethought me that Dr Underwoods book was in the house. [3]  There I found, what medical books xxx very seldom can give, facts & opinions which set me quite at ease, – & upon his directions a dry clister was applied which produced immediately a perfectly soft healthy stool. And in this way he goes on, – only that we do not wait beyond from 24 to 30 hours. Meantime he eats, takes the breast like a sucking lion, & sleeps, – & seems to have the limbs & fibre of a young Sampson. [4]  The suppository which we apply is a roll of blotting paper dipt in honey & soap. He does not object to the operation, & performs without delay or difficulty, – but I shall be glad when he grows less lazy in his negociations. & in

His name is to be Charles Cuthbert, – the former appellation to please his two Peters, [5]  the latter to please myself, – it being one of the few names – the very few, – which are purely & exclusively English. But till he obtain a Christian name, – it is quite lawful that he should have a Heathen one, so at present by reason of his bulk, in-as much as he resembling one of the sons of the Anakim, he is called Og: [6]  a name whereof he acknowledgeth the fitness xxxxx by sometimes bellowing like one of the Bulls of Basan. [7] 

About a week more will bring me to the last Chapter of my Brazil, – which is to be a general view of the state of that wide country at the time of the removal of the Court, – when the history terminates. [8]  Has Mr March [9]  any notes made during his stay in Brazil, which he would communicate to me? You know the sort of use I should make of them, – & you know also that no memoranda which might appear trifling to himself, would not be so to me. For this is a great mosaic work in which every little stone is of value when it fits its place. Now that I am so near the close I really look upon this work with wonder, to think of what materials it has been composed & with what labour they have been collected & arranged.

Love to Louisa & Mrs Gonne

God bless you


The Dutch call Godfathers & Godmothers by the queer name of Peters & Meters. Mrs Vardon is to be Ogs Meter. Three Peters offerd themselves too late – Ch. Townsend. Sir G. Beaumont, & John May.

–Two Peters being required for a boy, I think Elmsley might be allowed to do for both, – he being equal to any other two Peters in the world. [10] 


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 16 MR 16/ 1819
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, KESMG 1996.5.98. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished BACK

[1] The leg had swollen through an accumulation of water. BACK

[2] Hardening. BACK

[3] Michael Underwood (1737–1820), On the Diseases of Children (1805), no. 2928 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] Samson, a famously strong figure in Judges 13–16. BACK

[5] Charles Wynn and Grosvenor Charles Bedford, Charles Cuthbert Southey’s godfathers. BACK

[6] The Anakim were a race of giants, mentioned several times in the Bible, e.g. Genesis 23: 2 and Joshua 15: 13. At Deuteronomy 3: 11, Og, King of Bashan, was described as the last of the Rephaim, another race of giants. BACK

[7] Psalms 22: 12. BACK

[8] Chapter 44, History of Brazil, 3 vols (London, 1810–1819), III, pp. 696–879. The History did not go beyond the flight of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807–1808. BACK

[9] Mary Anne Gonne (b. 1792), sister of Louisa, Henry Herbert Southey’s wife, had married, in 1816, Thomas March (1781–1859), a British merchant from a family prominent in the trade with Portugal. BACK

[10] A joke about Peter Elmsley’s weight. BACK

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)