1205. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 1 August [1806]

1205. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 1 August [1806] ⁠* 

Dear Senhora

The inclosed came in a frank directed to me – not looking at the interior address I took it for a shepistle from you, instead of a hepistle to you – & opened it but as it begins Dear Mary – knowing that my name was not Mary I proceeded no farther, & resealed it in the clumsy manner you see. I meant to have sent it to Penkridge – thinking as my name was on the inside of the frank that you had sent a letter to Sir E. for me – & that he had by mistake franked back my letter to you, & sent yours to Keswick. However the mystery is explained.

We are in a sad plight here. One Maid laid up with a scalded foot – Derwent in the measles – & the rest of the children expected of course to sicken in it – tho not this fortnight the Doctor tells us. No very chearful prospect. Come however when you have done your work at Ambleside & at Grasmere – & if we are very uncomfortabell when you arrive it will be but going to Buttermere [1]  or to Paterdale [2]  at first – instead of afterwards. Do not omit to make a sketch of the great fern (Ozmunda regalis) [3]  for your foregrounds – it is not to be found in other parts of England, nor have we it here. W. will show it you – & if you can get a horse & a man to guide it, thro Yewdale & Tilburthwaite, & home by Colworth fall – you will see a very fine part of the country which is very little known. [4]  You should also go into Langdale to Dungeon Gill force, – & make a drawing of Loughrigg Tarn with Langdale in the background – this Tarn is within a walk – tho rather a long one – & in the point of view is one of the very finest things in the whole Land of Lakes. [5] 

I left Ambleside only on Saturday morning. [6]  how unlucky! My daughter who is sitting on my knee – sends a kiss to Barker – & says take me to her. She says Barkers gown is in the other room – I ask her what room – & she says Barkers room. You are engaged to write her men dogs horses & flowers when you arrive –

God bless you – Ediths love


Friday evening. Aug. 1.

your letter came this morning.


* Address: To/ Miss Barker/ at Mrs Simpsons / Ambleside [The wife of Joseph Sympson (dates unknown) of Ambleside, the family with whom the Wordsworths were most intimate. Sympson was the Vicar of Wythburn, and their house, called High Broad Rain, was half-way up the Dunmail Raise Road. Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth: The Early Years (Oxford, 1957), p. 469.]
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. 203–204.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A small lake ten miles southwest of Keswick. BACK

[2] Below Ullswater, fifteen miles east of Keswick. BACK

[3] Also known as the Royal fern, a native European species that grows in woodland bogs. BACK

[4] Picturesque spots near Coniston. BACK

[5] Sites of interest near Ambleside and Grasmere. BACK

[6] Southey had been staying with Charles Lloyd who lived at Low Brathay, near Ambleside. BACK

People mentioned

Places mentioned

Grasmere (Dove Cottage) (mentioned 2 times)
Ambleside (mentioned 2 times)
Ullswater (mentioned 1 time)
Teddesley (mentioned 1 time)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)