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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 23 July 1812

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Settle, July 23. 1812.
“My dear Edith,

“We left St. Helen’s after an early breakfast on
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 345
Tuesday, with
Tom in company; looked at Raby and Bernard Castle, and made our way to the porter’s lodge at Rokeby. . . . . A sturdy old woman, faithful to her orders, refused us admittance, saying that if we were going to the Hall we might go in, but if not we must not enter the grounds; nor would she let us in till we had promised to call at the Hall. Accordingly, against the grain, in observance of this promise, to the house I went, and having first inquired if Walter Scott was there, requested permission to see the grounds. Mr. Morritt was not within, but the permission was granted; and in ten minutes after, the footman came running to say we might see the house also, and we might fish if we pleased. I excused myself from seeing the house, saying we were going on, and returning a due number of thanks, &c. But presently we met Mr. and Mrs. M. in the walk by the river side, and were, as you may suppose, obliged to dine and sleep there; their hospitality being so pressed upon us that I could not continue to refuse it without rudeness. Behold the lion, then, in a den perfectly worthy of him, eating grapes and pears and drinking claret. The grounds are the finest things of the kind I have ever seen. A little in the manner of Downton, more resembling Lowther, but the Greta at Rokeby affords finer scenery than either. There is a summerhouse overlooking it, the inside of which was ornamented by Mason the poet: one day he set the whole family to work in cutting out ornaments in coloured paper from antique designs, directing the whole himself. It is still in good preservation, and will, doubtless, be preserved as long as a rag re-
mains. This river, in 1771, rose in the most extraordinary manner during what is still called the great flood. There is a bridge close by the summer-house at least sixty feet above the water; against this bridge and its side the river piled up an immense dam of trees and rubbish, which it had swept before it; at length down comes a stone of such a size that it knocked down Greta Bridge by the way, knocked away the whole mass of trees, carried off the second bridge, and lodged some little way beyond it upon the bank, breaking into three or four pieces.
Playfair the other day estimated the weight of this stone at about seventy-eight tons; the most wonderful instance, he said, he had ever heard of of the power of water. Before this stone came down, one of the trees had blocked up an old man and his wife who inhabited a room under the summer-house; the branches broke their windows, and a great bough barred the door, meantime the water, usually some twenty feet below, was on a level with it. The people of the house came to their relief, and sawed the bough off to let them out, and the windows remain as they were left, a memorial of this most extraordinary flood.

Mr. Morritt’s father bought the house of Sir Thomas Robinson, well known in his day by the names of Long Robinson and Long Sir Thomas. You may recollect a good epigram upon this man:—
“‘Unlike to Robinson shall be my song,
It shall be witty,—and it sha’nt be long.’
Long Sir Thomas found a portrait of
Richardson in the house: thinking Mr. Richardson a very unfit personage to be suspended in effigy among lords,
Ætat. 38. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 347
ladies, and baronets, he ordered the painter to put him on the star and blue riband, and then christened the picture
Sir Robert Walpole. You will easily imagine Mr. Morritt will not suffer the portrait to be restored. This, however, is not the most extraordinary picture in the room. That is one of Sir T.’s intended improvements, representing the river, which now flows over the finest rocky bed I ever beheld, metamorphosed by four dams into a piece of water as smooth and as still as a canal, and elevated by the same operation so as to appear at the end of a smooth shaven green. Mr. M. shows this with great glee. He has brought there from our country the stone fern and the Osmunda regalis.* Among his pictures is a Madonna by Guido; he mentioned this to a master of a college, whose name I am sorry to say that I have forgotten, for the gentleman in reply pointed to a picture above representing an aunt of Mr. Morritt’s (I believe), dressed in the very pink of the mode, and asked if that lady was the Madonna!

“I am sorry, too, that I forgot to ask if this was the lady whose needle-work is in the house. Mr. M. had an aunt who taught Miss Linwood. Wordsworth thought her pictures quite as good. In one respect they may be better, for she made her stitches athwart and across, exactly as the strokes of the original pictures. Miss L. (Mr. M. says) makes her stitches all in one way. This lady had great difficulty about her worsted, and could only suit herself by buying damaged quantities, thus obtaining shades

* The largest of the fern tribe, growing to the height of five and six feet—a rare plant even in its own districts. The finest specimens are on the river Rotha.

which would else have been unobtainable. The colours fly, and, in order to preserve them as long as possible, prints are fitted in the frames to serve as skreens. The art cost her her life though at an advanced age; it brought on a dead palsy, occasioned by holding her hands so continually in an elevated position working at the canvas. Her last picture is hardly finished; the needle, Mr. M. says, literally dropt from her hands,—death had been creeping on her for twelve years. God bless you!

R. S.”