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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to his younger daughters, 26 June 1820

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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“June 26. 1820.

Bertha, Kate, and Isabel, you have been very good girls, and have written me very nice letters, with which I was much pleased. This is the last letter which I can write in return; and as I happen to have a quiet hour to myself, here at Streatham, on Monday noon, I will employ that hour in relating to you the whole history and manner of my being ell-ell-deed at Oxford by the Vice-Chancellor.

“You must know, then, that because I had written a great many good books, and more especially the Life of Wesley, it was made known to me by the Vice-Chancellor, through Mr. Heber, that the University of Oxford were desirous of showing me the only mark of honour in their power to bestow, which was that of making me an LL.D., that is to say, a doctor of laws.

“Now, you are to know that some persons are ell-

* In both the ten vol. and one vol. edit. of my father’s poems, this poem “On the Portrait of Bishop Heber” bears the wrong date of 1820. It was written in 1830.

ell-deed every year at Oxford, at the great annual meeting which is called the Commemoration. There are two reasons for this; first, that the university may do itself honour, by bringing persons of distinction to receive the degree publicly as a mark of honour; and, secondly, that certain persons in inferior offices may share in the fees paid by those upon whom the ceremony of ell-ell-deeing is performed. For the first of these reasons the
Emperor Alexander was made a Doctor of Laws at Oxford, the King of Prussia, and old Blucher, and Platoff. And for the second, the same degree is conferred upon noblemen, and persons of fortune and consideration who are any ways connected with the university, or city, or county of Oxford.

“The ceremony of ell-ell-deeing is performed in a large circular building called the theatre, of which I will show you a print when I return, and this theatre is filled with people. The undergraduates (that is the young men who are called Cathedrals at Keswick) entirely fill the gallery. Under the gallery there are seats, which are filled with ladies in full dress, separated from the gentlemen. Between these two divisions of the ladies are seats for the heads of houses, and the doctors of law, physic, and divinity. In the middle of these seats is the Vice-Chancellor, opposite the entrance which is under the orchestra. On the right and left are two kind of pulpits, from which the prize essays and poems are recited. The area, or middle of the theatre, is filled with bachelors and masters of arts, and with as many strangers as can
obtain admission. Before the steps which lead up to the seats of the doctors, and directly in front of the Vice-Chancellor, a wooden bar is let down, covered with red cloth, and on each side of this the beadles stand in their robes.

“When the theatre is full, the Vice-Chancellor, and the heads of houses, and the doctors enter: those persons who are to be ell-ell-deed remain without in the divinity schools, in their robes, till the convocation have signified their assent to the ell-ell-deeing, and then they are led into the theatre, one after another in a line, into the middle of the area, the people just making a lane for them. The professor of civil law, Dr. Phillimore, went before, and made a long speech in Latin, telling the Vice-Chancellor and the dignissimi doctores what excellent persons we were who were now to be ell-ell-deed. Then he took us one by one by the hand, and presented each in his turn, pronouncing his name aloud, saying who and what he was, and calling him many laudatory names ending in issimus. The audience then cheered loudly to show their approbation of the person; the Vice-Chancellor stood up, and repeating the first words in issime, ell-ell-deed him; the beadles lifted up the bar of separation, and the new-made doctor went up the steps and took his seat among the dignissimi doctores.

“Oh Bertha, Kate, and Isabel, if you had seen me that day! I was like other issimis, dressed in a great robe of the finest scarlet cloth, with sleeves of rose-coloured silk, and I had in my hand a black velvet cap like a beef-eater, for the use of which dress I paid one guinea for that day. Dr. Philli-
more, who was an old school-fellow of mine, and a very good man, took me by the hand in my turn, and presented me; upon which there was a great clapping of hands and huzzaing at my name. When that was over, the Vice-Chancellor stood up, and said these words whereby I was ell-ell-deed:—‘Doctissime et ornatissime vir, ego, pro auctoritate mea et totius universitatis hujus, admitto te ad gradum doctoris in jure civili, honoris causâ.’ These were the words which ell-ell-deed me; and then the bar was lifted up, and I seated myself among the doctors.

“Little girls, you know it might be proper for me, now, to wear a large wig, and to be called Doctor Southey, and to become very severe, and leave off being a comical papa. And if you should find that ell-ell-deeing has made this difference in me you will not be surprised. However, I shall not come down in a wig, neither shall I wear my robes at home.

“God bless you all!

Your affectionate Father,
R. Southey.”