LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Edith Southey, 7 July 1825

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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“Leyden, Thursday, July 7. 1825.
“My dear Edith,

“. . . . . This is our manner of life. At eight in the morning Lodowijk knocks at my door. My movements in dressing are as regular as clockwork, and when I enter the adjoining room breakfast is ready on a sofa-table, which is placed for my convenience close to the sofa. There I take my place, seated on one cushion, and with my leg raised on another. The sofa is covered with black plush. The family take coffee, but I have a jug of boiled milk. Two sorts of cheese are on the table, one of which is very strong, and highly flavoured with cummin and cloves; this is called Leyden cheese, and is eaten at breakfast laid in thin slices on bread and butter. The bread is soft, in rolls, which have rather skin than crust; the butter very rich, but so soft that it is brought in a pot to table, like potted meat. Before we begin Mr. B. takes off a little gray cap, and a silent grace is said, not longer than it ought to be; when it is over he generally takes his wife’s hand. They sit side by side opposite me; Lodowijk at the end of the table. About ten o’clock Mr. Droesa comes and dresses my foot, which is swathed in one of my silk handkerchiefs. I bind a second round the bottom of the pantaloon, and if the weather be cold I put on a third: so that the leg has not merely a decent, but rather a splendid appearance. After breakfast and tea Mrs. B. washes up the china herself at the table. Part of the morning Mr. B. sits with me. During the rest I read Dutch, or, as at
Ætat. 51. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 225
present, retire into my bed-room and write.
Henry Taylor calls in the morning, and is always pressed to dine, which he does twice or thrice in the week. We dine at half-past two or three, and the dinners, to my great pleasure, are altogether Dutch. You know I am a valiant eater, and having retained my appetite as well as my spirits during this confinement, I eat every thing which is put before me. Mutton and pork never appear, being considered unfit for any person who has a wound, and pepper for the same reason is but sparingly allowed. Spice enters largely into their cookery; the sauce for fish resembles custard rather than melted butter, and is spiced. Perch, when small (in which state they are considered best), are brought up swimming in a tureen. They look well, and are really very good. With the roast meat (which is in small pieces) dripping is presented in a butter-boat. The variety of vegetables is great. Peas, peas of that kind in which the pod also is eaten, purslain, cauliflowers, abominations*, kidney beans, carrots, turnips, potatoes. But besides these, many very odd things are eaten with meat. I had stewed apples, exceedingly sweet and highly spiced, with roast fowl yesterday; and another day, having been helped to some stewed quinces, to my utter surprise some ragout of beef was to be eaten with them. I never know when I begin a dish whether it is sugared, or will require salt; yet every thing is very good, and the puddings excellent. The dinner lasts very long. Strawberries and cherries always follow. Twice we had cream with

* Broad beans, which he always so denominated.

the strawberries, very thick, and just in the first stage of sourness. We have had melons also, and currants; the first which have been produced. After coffee they leave me to an hour’s nap. Tea follows. Supper at half-past nine, when Mr. B. takes milk, and I a little cold meat with pickles, or the gravy of the meat preserved in a form like jelly; olives are used as pickles, and at half-past ten I go to bed. Mr. B. sits up till three or four, living almost without sleep.

“Twice we had a Frisian here, whom we may probably see at Keswick, as he talks of going to England on literary business. Halbertsma* is his

* “Mr. Halbertsma is a very good and learned man, who has particularly directed his attention to the early languages of these countries, and is now planning a journey to England for the purpose of transcribing some MSS of Junius’, which are at Oxford. He speaks English, and made his first essay at conversing with an Englishman with me. His pronunciation was surprisingly good, considering that till that moment he had never heard English spoken by an Englishman. But the Frisians have nothing in their own language which it is necessary for them to forget: he read me some verses in their tongue that I might hear the pronunciation. To my ear they were much less harsh than the Dutch, being wholly free from gutturals. The language, however, is regarded as a barbarous dialect.” I subjoin a few other extracts from his Journal:—

“Very few of the Mennonites retain the orthodox faith of their fathers. In this generation they have generally lapsed into Socianism, which, with other kindred isms, prevails extensively in Holland. Pantheism being the stage to which the speculative Atheists in this country proceed. Another people, like the unbelievers in England, all act in favour of Romanism and in league with it. Their principle is, that superstition is necessary for the vulgar; so they would have a papal establishment, with infidel priests and an indifferent government. The Romanists are palpably favoured, and visibly increase in numbers. At the Fête de Dieu, the king committed the gross offence to his own religion of having his palace decorated in honour of the procession. This could not gratify his Romish subjects so much as it has disgusted all those who know how to appreciate the blessings of the Reformation. For the great body of the Dutch people are attached to that religion, the enjoyment of which their ancestors purchased so dearly.

Ætat. 51. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 227
name, and he is a Mennonite* pastor at Deventer. Twice we have had the young Count Hoogmandorp, a fine young man, one of the eight who for six weeks watched day and night by
Mr. B. in his illness; and once a Dr. Burgman, a young man of singular appearance and much learning, drank tea here. My host’s conversation is amusing beyond anything I ever heard. I cannot hope to describe it so as to

“The government has followed that base policy which all restored kings seem to follow, as if to show, if persons alone were to be considered, how little they have deserved their restoration. The old enemies of the House of Orange are favoured and preferred; the old friends, true servants and sufferers in their cause, are left with their sufferings for their reward. The system of Liberalism prevails; the Press is made an engine of mischief here as in England; and everything that presumptuous ignorance and philosophism can do, is doing to undermine the religion and morals of the people.

“During the triumph of the anti-stadtholder faction, popular feeling manifested itself in some odd ways. The body of the people have always been gratefully attached to the House of Orange, as it became them to be. To prevent all manifestation of that feeling, the ruling faction forbade the market women to expose carrots for sale. They were enjoined, on pain of fine, to keep them covered under other greens. Carrotty cats were hunted down to be extirpated, and marigolds rooted up by men sent for the purpose. Of course such measures provoked the spirit which they were desired to suppress. The fishwomen cried orange-salmon through the streets, marigold seeds were scattered everywhere, and particularly in the gardens of the factious, and pigeons were dyed orange colour and let fly. The two latter tricks excited some superstitious feeling.

“The University here has sadly declined. There are not thirty professors, and not more than 300 students. The want of able men and the appointment of unfit ones, has occasioned the decline. Freshmen are called greens, and a ceremony was (and perhaps is) used in ungreening them, and admitting them to their full academical privileges. Bread, according to its degree of fineness, was called in military and academic towns, from the rank of those who might be supposed to eat it, cadet’s, captain’s, or colonel’s bread; and here, from greens’ up to professor’s bread; the sort above which was called prophet’s. If a fisherman offered for sale a remarkably fine and large fish, a haddock, for example, he will say it is a professor among haddocks.”—From his Journal.

* The Mennonites were Dutch Baptists.

make you conceive it. The matter is always so interesting, that it would alone suffice to keep one’s attention on the alert; his manner is beyond expression animated, and his language the most extraordinary that can be imagined. Even my French cannot be half so odd. It is English pronounced like Dutch, and with such a mixture of other language, that it is an even chance whether the next word that comes be French, Latin, or Dutch, or one of either tongues shaped into an English form. Sometimes the oddest imaginable expressions occur. When he would say ‘I was pleased,’ he says ‘I was very pleasant;’ and instead of saying that a poor woman was wounded, with whom he was overturned in a stage-coach in England, he said she was severely blessed. Withal, whatever he says is so full of information, vivacity, and character, and there is such a thorough good nature, kindness, and frankness about him, that I never felt myself more interested in any man’s company. Every moment he reminds me more and more of
Dr. Bell.

“I gather by one word which dropt from him that Mrs. B. is his second wife. They are proud of each other, as well they may. She has written a great many poems, some of which are published jointly with some of his, and others by themselves. Many of them are devotional, and many relate to her own feelings under the various trials and sufferings which she has undergone. In some of them I have been reminded sometimes of some of my own verses, in others of Miss Bowles’s. One would think it almost impossible that a person so meek, so quiet,
Ætat. 51. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 229
so retiring, so altogether without display, should be a successful authoress, or hold the first place in her country as a poetess. The profits of literature here are miserably small. In that respect I am in relation to them what
Sir Walter Scott is in relation to me. Lodowijk (thus the name is spelt) is a nice good boy, the only survivor of seven children. He is full of sensibility, and I look at him with some apprehension, for he is not strong, and I fear this climate, which suits his father better than any other, is injurious to him. Tell Cuthbert that the oyevaar has paid him another visit, and that Lodowijk’s other playmate is a magnificent tabby cat, as old as himself, who, however, is known by no other name than puss, which is good Dutch as well as English.

“English books are so scarce here, that they have never seen any work of mine except Roderick. Of course I have ordered over a complete set of my poems and the History of Brazil, and as E. May is in London I have desired her to add, as a present from herself to Mrs. B., a copy of Kirke White’s Remains. I can never sufficiently show my sense of the kindness which I am experiencing here. Think what a difference it is to be confined in an hotel, with all the discomforts, or to be in such a family as this, who show by every word and every action that they are truly pleased in having me under their roof.

“I manage worst about my bed. I know not how many pillows there are, but there is one little one which I used for my head till I found that it was intended for the small of my back. Every thing
else I can find instruction for, but here is nobody to teach one how to get into a Dutch bed, or how to lie in one. A little bottle of brandy is placed on the dressing-table, to be used in cleansing the teeth. Saffron is used in some of the soups and sauces. The first dish yesterday was marrow in a tureen, which was eaten upon toast. I eat every thing, but live in daily fear of something like suety pudding or tripe. About an hour before dinner a handsome mahogany case containing spirits is produced; a glass waiter is taken out of it, and little tumblers with gilt edges, and we have then a glass of liqueur with a slice of cake. Deventer cake it is called; and an odd history belongs to it. The composition is usually intrusted only to the burgomaster of that city, and when the baker has made all the other ingredients ready the chief magistrate is called upon, as part of his duty, to add that portion of the materials which constitute the excellence and peculiarity of the Deventer cake. I shall have much to tell you, for I know not where I have heard so much to amuse, so much to affect, so much to interest and inform me as since I have been a prisoner here. . . . .

“Love to the children. God bless you, my dear Edith!

Your affectionate Husband,
R. S.”