Senhora Small Fry, from PastPresented

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Abbreviations- personal names: Robert Southey hereafter "RS"; Mary Barker "MB"; William Wordsworth "WW"; Dorothy Wordsworth "DW"; Sara Hutchinson "SH"
Abbreviations- book titles:
  • Curry: "New Letters of Robert Southey", edited by Kenneth Curry (1965. 2 volumes)
  • Coburn: "The Letters of Sara Hutchinson", edited by Kathleen Coburn (1954)
  • Life & Corr.: "The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey", edited by the Rev. Charles Cuthbert Southey (1850. 6 volumes)
  • Warter: "Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey", edited by John Wood Warter (1856. 4 volumes)
  • W Letters: "The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth" edited by E. de Selincourt & others (2nd edition, c1970, several volumes)
RS general biographyJack Simmons, "Southey" (1945) + which is a Southey and Coleridge genealogy website
Page & topicNotes
1: pictureEngraved by R. Sands from picture by T. AllomThis picture of Rosthwaite has been digitally altered to minimise the exaggeration of hills which was routinely introduced into pictures before the age of photography. The original was taken from "Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham & Northumberland Illustrated", published by Fisher & Sons, 1838. At right is a detail showing Miss Barker's house - the middle one of the three.
2: further researchThere are three obvious places to look for further information about Mary Barker:
a) archives in Staffordshire (certainly Stafford and Lichfield, probably also others for records of the family business)
b) archives and libraries (and graveyards) around Boulogne-sur-Mer and Marquise in France
c) the Bodleian Library in Oxford, which has at least one important manuscript item by Mary [for details of which, see page 56 introductory note to "Lines..."]

In addition, I would recommend a trawl through the records of the Historic Manuscripts Commission for references to correspondence, and a separate check of archives relating to individuals with whom Miss Barker is known to have had dealings, such as Lord Sunderlin and Sir George Beaumont.
3 etc.: RS quotationsWilliam Thackeray, dealing with the time of King George IV in his "Lectures on the Four Georges" (Cornhill Magazine, 1860), observed that "Kehama's curse frightens very few readers now, but Southey's private letters are worth piles of epics"*. I incline to agree, so I have included fairly generous quotations from RS's correspondence in the book. This has meant that other writers, apart from Mary Barker herself, have to be content with odd phrases.

* The good old Harmsworth Encyclopaedia, my favourite reference work for 19th-century Britain, beautifully describes Southey's epic poems as "monuments of respectable craftsmanship, from which the dust is rarely blown."
3: the other womanCurry provides a great deal of very good background information, but the suggestion that RS in his letter to G.C. Bedford from Lisbon, 20 Feb 1796 is "almost certainly" referring to Mary Barker when he writes "I have made a female friend here and told her all my secrets" is almost certainly wrong, as a study of letters from 1800 will indicate (see below).
3: footnotee.g. letter by RS to Mr J. Neville White, from Keswick, 11 Nov 1814, in Warter + RS to MB from Keswick, 26 May 1806, in Warter [transcript with p11-12 "Musical Letter" note below]. I have not so far found any letter except the 20 Feb 1796 one- in any of the three general compilations or in the selection "Letters Written During a Short residence in Spain and Portugal" (1799 edition)- which seems likely to to refer to RS's first encounter with Mrs Gonne.
3: "The Triumph of Woman"The paradoxes of Southey's feminism are worth a book or two in themselves: on the one hand, his openness to female points of view had significant effects; on the other, his letters give the impression that he never quite came to terms with his tendency to father girls.
3: Southey rhymes with mouthyAn excellent example of the value of rhyming poetry as a guide to pronunciation, supplied by Lord Byron, in stanza CCV (205) of the first canto of "Don Juan". This handy tip was not entirely helpful to Southey's Cumbrian neighbours, who pronounced "mouthy" as "moothy" (and "moor" as "mure/muir", so that the mountain "Grasmoor" sounded more like "Grasmere"; most unfortunate when asking for directions). For an extended passage of local dialect and pronunciation, see note to page 42 on Borrowdale life.
3: selection of letterssee note to footnote, above.
3: 1800 Portugal visitAnnoyingly, Southey's "Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800-1801 and a Visit to France 1838", edited by Alfonso Cabral (1960) have no entries for the period between 17 May 1800 and 4 Mar 1801, so this section is based on correspondence
3: very clever girlRS letter from Lisbon, 23 Jun 1800, in Warter: "On Monday next we go to Cintra... We shall be fortunate in having a pleasant neighbour there, in one of the birds of passage that chance sends to Portugal, a Miss Barker" [etc. as quoted]. Note that this extract makes it fairly clear that RS has not met MB before.
3: London literary setRS letter from Lisbon, x Jun 1800, in Warter: "there is a girl here who knows Charlotte Smith, and has seen Coleridge, and Godwin, and Mary Hays &c. &c.,- a fine, lively, goodnatured girl, with a head brimful of brains."
3: MB baptismPenkridge parish register, at Stafford Record Office (microfiche F1354/1/3)
3: Thomas BarkerWilliam Pitt "History of Staffordshire" (1817) pages 257-8 + Victoria History of Staffordshire, volume 5 page 106 & page 21
3: Mrs Mary Barkersee note to page 17: Homfray
3: Richard HurdWilliam Pitt op. cit. + Robert Charles Wilkes "The Story of Penkridge" (1985) + entry in "The Penguin Companion to Literature" Volume 1, edited by David Daiches (1971)
3-4: Sir Edward LittletonEntry in Dictionary of National Biography for Edward Littleton, Lord Hatherton + entry for Hatherton barony in Burke's Peerage. Also, Wilkes, op. cit. mentions the memorial to Sir Edward Littleton in Penkridge church, which notes that his wife, Frances, daughter of Christopher Horton esq. of Catton, Derbs., died 29 Aug 1781. No issue.
4-5: A Welsh StoryGets its own microsite.
5: idle acquaintance + Cintra ramble + loss of MBRS letter from Lisbon, 25 Jul 1800, in Warter.
5: Joan of ArcRS letter to MB from Lisbon 1801, but completed at Dublin, Oct 21 1801, in Warter.
5: MB's sister & book, + ColeridgeRS to MB from Parkgate 10 Oct 1801, in Warter.
"shall I tell you how I would wish you to write? in what new manner you might honourably distinguish yourself? It is by becoming the historian of manners" [etc.] ... "Such a work would do your own mind good by the necessary reading, and the train of thoughts that would inevitably follow. It would be useful, because it would impart knowledge, though the book itself should want any other merit, which I will not suspect, because I remember my companion at Cintra. ...
Coleridge remembered you, not merely as one with whom he had been pleased, but also as a snuff-taker. As I have written a reasoning defence of snuff-taking, you will not look upon this as censure."
5: SnuffA friend of mine at school got round the inevitable ban on smoking, for a while at least, by taking snuff...
5: Charlotte Smith blagRS to MB from Lisbon 1801, but completed at Dublin, Oct 21 1801, in Warter as above.
6: winter with Mrs SmithRS letter [presumably from London] 2 Dec 1801, in Curry.
6: French RevolutionRS to MB from London, cNov 1801, in Warter.
6: Charlotte Smith footnote & background "Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology" edited by Roger Lonsdale (1990 revised ed.) + Joanne Shattock "The Oxford Guide to British Women Writers" (1993)
6: Living RemarkablesRS letter from London, 6 Feb 1802, in Curry.
6: SenHORa BARKeriANA + godmotherRS to MB from Kingsdown near Bristol, 6 Feb 1802, in Warter.
"And do you, Senhora, instruct yourself in the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, in the vulgar tongue, to qualify yourself for the office designed you by my Threetailship."
"Threetailship" is semi-explained in RS letter to MB from Kingsdown, 9 Jul 1802:
The Bashaw writes, because some five weeks have elapsed since he hath written: but what hath he of the three tails to write about, of, or concerning?"... "Do you go to Wales? When do you go? If you go, you must make Bristol, going or returning, in your way; if you do not go, you must make a journey to Bristol expressly."...
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Pashas, or Bashaws, in the Turkish empire, signified their rank by the number of horses' tails they displayed on their standards; three indicating high rank.
6: proxy godmother + handwriting + relocation RS to MB from Kingsdown, 14 Jan 1803, in Warter.
6: Coleridge in KeswickH.W. Howe (revised by Robert Woof) "Greta Hall: Home of Coleridge and Southey" (1977)
7: baby deathRS to John May [an old friend, and godfather to the girl] from Bristol, 19 Aug 1803, in Warter.
7: thanks to MB RS to MB, from Keswick, 8 Sep 1803, in Warter:
"Send me your ink receipt, and without loss of time, for look what a vile mulatto composition is here, and all kickman-jiggery of manuscripts must be at a stand till I get something better. This, being of the first importance, comes first. In the same letter, tell me when you will set forward for these lakes and mountains"... "I have to thank you for all the kind attentions we received at Congreve. Edith was certainly the better for being there." ... "COME!" ... [etc.]
7: 5-day stay with MBRS letter from Keswick, 8 Sep 1803, in Curry + RS letter to Lieut. Tom Southey, 8 Sep 1803, in Life & Corr.
7: Edith healthRS to Tom Southey as above + RS to John May from Keswick, 22 Sep 1803, in Warter:
..."earlier I certainly should have written had there been any thing pleasant to communicate. Here we are, after a long and wearying journey, little short of the whole length of England. On the way, we stayed five days with our friend Miss Barker, whom you saw with us in London. This halt was every way desirable, for Edith was in wretched health when we left Bristol, hardly recovered from a very sharp attack of fever; but she was impatient to be gone."...
7: work on "Madoc"RS to H[enry] Southey Esq., from Keswick, 23 Jan 1804, in Warter:
..."As soon as this next batch is over, it is my design to give an undivided attention to 'Madoc'" ... "Miss Barker (whom you saw in London) will make the drawings, to my own taste, for they will be under my own eye, as we expect her here in the spring."...
7: Coleridge + spring visitRS to MB, from Keswick, cJan 1804, in Warter:
"SENHORA!"... "I believe Coleridge has made up his mind to go to Malta for change of climate, and will set out by the first ship. ... as soon as the spring begins to make everything alive you must please to come and make us alive. Do, do, draw figures instead of kick-man-giggery, that you may make some drawings for 'Madoc' which, in good earnest, I do mean to publish as soon as ever I can get a decent number of subscribers"... "Will you not rejoice to hear that I am going to blow the trumpet of alarm against the Evangelicals? having got a 'History of the Methodists' to review."... "P.S. My fraternal" ... [etc.]
7: Peter the pigMB note attached to above letter, RS to MB cJan 1804, in Warter.
8: Stork riddle + costume + seasonsRS letter to MB, from Keswick, Feb 1804, in Warter:
..."I like your 'Stork' well, and doubt not you will like my motto for it, which is 'Riddle-my-riddle-my-ree'. I can find no better, but I can do what is better; for the device being a true emblem, I can make a poem upon it, which, being put in one volume, will serve instead of a motto for all the rest; and I can put you in the poem; so send me the drawing, and I will write in the very spirit of old honest Wither: God rest his soul!" ... "And now about the 'Madoc' drawings. I will get the book with the Mexican costume down here by the time you make your appearance hand in hand with May, or with April-day, if you thnk that would be coupling you suitably. Summer is not the season" ... [etc., plus more, on snow, frost etc.]
"But once more to the drawings. 'Madoc' is not such a painter's poem as 'Thalaba', though you doubtless will find out more in it than I can. But it will be possible to make very learned drawings which will be useful. Let me see what subjects seem practicable." [gives examples]
..."I shall read it over with you, and then we will see with both our pairs of eyes at once. Senhora, I conceive two sets of eyes to see more clearly than one and a pair of spectacles."...
8: vignettesRS to MB from Keswick, 17 Feb 1804, in Warter: ... "prudential reasons, and Longman will have them engraved in the very best style, some in copper, others in wood, as the subjects suit; but such as are in wood must be without human figures." [gives examples of possible scenes]
"What think you of the capabilities here? When you come here, I will get some Cumberland views from my neighbour, that will suit with little alteration my American landscapes, and will procure books of natural history that you may get the right trees." [Gives examples of possible nature scenes "for tailpieces"]
"You must come as soon as our hullabaloo is over, which will be in less than two months, God willing, to a christening; for you see I must be brought to bed of this poem at last, after fifteen years' labour!"...
8: allegorical sketch + London tripRS to MB from Keswick, 3 Mar 1804, in Warter:
"First, as of most consequence, about the Hussar. You can have no accounts before the Admiralty, and must therefore make yourself easy till those accounts arrive."...
[more research needed on this topic, not mentioned in the book! As reported in the London papers of 22 Feb and summarised in the Cumberland Pacquet of 29 Feb, the 38-gun frigate "Hussar" went down on 12 Feb 1804 with the loss of all but Captain Wilkinson and 11 crewmen]
"I do not like your sketch" ... [etc.] "If you go to London, I shall see you there; if not, I shall call for you on my return; and then we can talk about these things far more expeditiously than pen and ink will permit." ... "My fraternal love" .. [etc.]
8: Coleridge departureRS to MB from Keswick, 3 Apr 1804, in Warter:
... "destiny of both" ... "I am expecting with pleasureable anticipation the beavers back. Farewell"
8: Edith pregnancy + bank drawingRS to MB from Keswick, 18 Apr 1804, in Warter:
... "diminutive personage indeed" ... "I will make something to fit this beautiful bank, and you must make me another bank to fit the beaver, where you may have as many reeds, flags, coltsfoot, and stumps of trees as you please- but no tree. And for the beaver himself, I will bring you down a portrait from London."...
8-9: birth of Edith May Southey + pencilsRS to MB from Keswick, May-Day 1804, in Warter:
"...your own again.
I never heard of Price's book concerning Spain, nor knew that he had written upon any subject connected with it. I shall make enquiry in town, and then answer Sir Edward's question concerning the plagiarism."
NB John May was Edith May's godfather, as indicated in various RS letters, eg: RS to John May, 5 Dec 1810, in Warter.
PS: Frederick Sessions, in "Literary Celebrities of the English Lake-District" (1905) recounts the legend of Southey's own birth, 12 August 1774:
" 'Is it a boy?' asked the mother.
'Ay' replied the nurse, 'a great ugly boy'; and the mother, when she saw the 'great red creature,' feared she should never be able to love him."
9: bacon + Congreve visitRS to MB from Keswick, 7 May 1804, in Warter:
"You will have discovered ere this, Miss Mooncalf, that the theory of the tides has nothing to do with lying-in."... "I will be (God willing and if all go on well) with you at Congreve about the 4th of June. You must tell me what coach will convey me from London to the nearest town" ... "if I can do anything for your friend Mrs Lewis, you may command me.
You may do what you please here, and dress as you please, in boots and buckskin if you think proper. Where you will go to draw nobody will see you, and you may 'prink and prank', and put on your 'power', and your 'tussocks' for our visitors, if you choose to defy the ghost of old Bishop Latimer"... "I have a commission for you. In this land" ... [etc.]
9: questions letterRS to MB from Keswick, 5 Aug 1804, in Warter.
9: the MabersIn the early part of his 1795-6 trip through Spain and Portugal, RS was accompanied by a man named Maber, apparently a cleric. In his book of letters from this trip, Maber is referred to simply as "M-", but here he is in a private letter to Robert Lovell, from Lisbon, 19 Feb 1796:
"Miss* remains in Lord Bute's stables in Madrid:- she amused me on the road by devouring one pair of horsehair socks, one tooth-brush, one comb, a pound of raisins, do. of English beef, and one pair of shoes: Maber has as much reason to remember her" ... "My uncle and I never molest each other by our different principles. I used to work Maber sometimes, but here there is no one whom I am so intimate with, or with whom I wish intimacy. Here is as much visiting, and as little society as you can wish" ...

* "Miss" is claimed in a footnote to be "a favourite dog", but I suspect her to be a donkey or ass

In a letter to his wife from Carmarthen, 23 Sep 1802, in Curry, RS refers to dinner with Maber at Merthyr- Curry's footnote identifies this Maber as George Martin Maber (1766-1844), rector of Merthyr Tydfil. I am inclined to agree with Curry that this is the 1795-6 Maber; it is interesting to note that he seems to have been appointed as rector in 1795, according to the magazine "Merthyr Historian".
9: joke poemRS to MB from Keswick, 24 Dec 1804 [allegedly], in Warter:
... "will I love thee!" ... "I do not know that Price has written any book about Spain, and should be very glad to see the book if he has." ... "I did tell you that the secret history of the persons tried for returning from transportation is, that they never were transported at all, having, by dint of money, evaded the execution of the sentence. If Sir Edward will consider the almost imossibility of getting from Botany Bay to England, and also how much less public, and less attended to, the shipping of a gang of transported convicts is than any other sentence of the law whatsoever, he will perceive that this is not very unlikely"... "'Madoc' has four vignettes" [describes them, implying that the artwork is not by MB] "if the poem sells, we will do as you say; but I am not sanguine in my expectations." ... "Come with the first spring weather. Edith is poorly, and I do not know what is the matter with her"...
9: ham + EspriellaRS to MB from Keswick, 26 Jan 1805, in Warter:
"I am to acknowledge receipt of a ham, who arrived well on Wednesday last, and is at present the great ornament of our kitchen. Sir Edward may well excuse me for not recognising Udal-ap-Rhys by the name of Price" [i.e. Uvedale Price] ... "Can you bring with you the Welshman's book about the fairies? I am going to make a book for the lucre of gain, in which you can help me,- 'Letters from England by a Spaniard',- which I mean to pass off as a translation; so mind you keep the secret, for my name is not to appear." ... "Now, you have some odd things which will help me- some Welsh anecdotes- also about Joanna Southcote, the county rovers, &c." ... [mentions a woman no more knowledgeable than "the dead Peter"- i.e. presumably the pig] "Edith is quite recovered." ... "My daughter tries to walk and talk; she is too forward, but, thank God, all seems well as yet; she has rare stout legs of her own, and is very strong. Of her beauty the less we say the better; but she is also the best-tempered little creature in the world."

Also RS to MB from Keswick, 11 May 1805, in Warter:
..."Should my little girl live, which, God knows, is of all dreams the one which I least venture to indulge, I mean that she shall be taught to draw- chiefly, I hope, by your Senhoraship- as soon as she can hold a pencil." ...
"Get me, I beseech you, the Welsh parson's book about the Fairies; it will be of infinite use for my Spaniard; and collect for me anecdotes of Joanna Southcote."
9-10: Greta Hall intended saleRS to MB from Keswick, cApr 1805, in Warter:
... "more than three quarters. A mail, which leaves Manchester about two hours after your mail arrives there, will carry you to Kendal, from whence it is two stages to Keswick of good road. You may reach us before the second night sets in. This is the last time of asking, Madam Spinster. So no more at present from
Yours, as you deserve,
R.S." [and Edith's PS]:
... "Three Furies. My indignation is not to be expressed in this place; but appear and tremble!- the leg-twirl is mercy to what you must undergo. To be short, don't write unless in the affirmative: in that case write immediately, for my sister Coleridge is going to pay a visit, but will not fix any time until your answer arrives. Yours" ... [etc.]
10: art commissionRS to MB from Keswick, 6 Jul 1805, in Warter (see also next).
10: accommodation RS to MB from Keswick, 27 Jun 1805, in Warter:
"You will find no house-room at the Wordsworths', Mrs W. being in the straw, as the phrase is for being in bed on a certain occasion; and the house fuller than it can hold at times. However if you are determined to take the views in that part before you come here, you had better get lodgings, if possible, at Grasmere for a week, then at Ambleside, as being nearer many fine things, which W. will show you." [Decribes a proposed tour of the Lakes, in which he will assist]
"Senhora, I am not sure that a set of your drawings might not accompany a parting poem of mine upon this place, which it has just come into my head that I could write, and so make a magnificent and thin book, at the publisher's risk; they, you, and I sharing the profits, if any there should be. Come and talk of it."...

+ RS to MB from Keswick, 6 Jul 1805, in Warter:
"You do well to read Travels, which are almost the only modern books worth reading. You speak of Pallas just as I have spoken, for it fell to my lot to review his first volume"...
"I begged and besought you to borrow or steal for me the Welshman's book about the Fairies, and I do again intreat and implore you to do so. It will be a treasure to Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, to whom I shall be very happy to have the honour of introducing you. Forget not to pack up with you whatever you think may be of use to the Senhõr (mark you how his title is spelt, he being a Spaniard)"...
"Danvers is now on the road, to occupy the bed which is to be your's; he will stay a month, so I conceive,- not longer. As soon as he is gone, and of the time fixed for his departure, you shall have early notice; and the sooner you make your appearance the better"...
"I should have sent this off some days ago, had not some visitors interrupted me. Among the tribe came a certain Mr Smith, of Brummejam, who knew you; he is the gentleman for whom a lady has just died for love, leaving him 7000L." ...
"You are to make sundry drawings"... [etc.]
10: MB visit to KeswickRS letter [presumably from Keswick] 22 Nov 1805, in Curry.
10-11: Teddesley presents + Espriella requests + bright daughterRS to MB from Keswick, 27 Nov 1805, in Warter:
"I should have written sooner to you, but for the daily expectation of hearing further tidings, and the uncomfortable uncertainty which the disappointment occasions. However, it is a wise practical maxim, that no news is good news, and I shall write in that belief.
First and foremost, we have to thank you for a pine-apple and a side of venison, which was very good, and, indeed, is so still, for there is a good hash remaining. If these things come from Sir Edward himself, I beg you will make my acknowledgments in suitable phrase.
Secondly, I have to request help for D. Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Have you a Cookery Book? There is at the end of Mrs Glass, and all her succession, an admirable course of lessons in carving, from which I want the appropriate terms"... "In the next place, I am going to write a letter about English music and the fugues. This will reach you on Sunday; and it is well you are not going to church, or you would laugh at this during the sermon." ..."so do you supply what I really do not understand, and we will have a very good letter between us." ... "I repented that I had not accompanied you to Kendal, and seen you into the mail; and the uncertainty whether you found room in it or not was my punishment. You are missed still more in my study than below stairs. Your litter was become part of the furniture of the room, and I never like to lose what is become familiar. My daughter talks" ... [etc.]
To page 11-20 notes