SENHORA SMALL FRY (EXTRAS & UPDATES)
|"Robert Southey: Entire Man of Letters"
|W.A. Speck's new biography "Robert Southey: Entire Man of Letters" (Yale University Press, 2006; hardback ISBN 0-300-11681-0) contains much new material about Mary Barker, but a few surprising omissions about RS. For example, although Prof. Speck is very interested in RS's friendships with women other than his wife, he gets round the problem of the mystery woman who did so much good for RS on his 1796 visit to Portugal by relegating her to a footnote- also, the Gonne family and their long friendship with the Southeys are never mentioned at all.
As far as Miss Barker is concerned, the best thing about Prof. Speck's book is his use of an unpublished 1967 Harvard University thesis by Robert G. Kirkpatrick- a scholarly edition, from the originals, of the letters by RS to Mary Barker, as supplied to the Warters for their 1855 selection of RS's correspondence. The Warters omitted many interesting letters, and censored others, so the new book presents a much more rounded picture of the relationship. There are more innuendoes in the unpublished letters- but also more moments where RS shares his deep feelings. For me, the impression give by the quotations in the book is not so much that RS was sexually attracted to Mary as that he felt able to treat her as gender-neutral: somebody who could take the innuendoes like a man and the emotions like a woman.
Further notes relating to Prof. Speck's book appear below.
|The Collected Letters of Robert Southey
|Another project in which Prof. Speck has been much involved is a new online edition of RS's letters, providing better transcriptions than the 19th century editions, plus excellent background notes on people, places and topics mentioned in the letters. In 2013, this reached part 4 (1810 to 1815), thus encompassing the whole period of Mary and Robert's long-distance relationship, and part 5 takes the correspondence through to 1818, including the immediate aftermath of young Herbert Southey's death.
|The other woman
(see page 3)
Online publication of old newspapers and magazines has revealed that William Gonne Esq. died, aged 59, at Champion Hill, Camberwell, Surrey, just before 1 Feb 1815 (following which his name ceased to appear in lists of the directors of the Albion Fire and Life Insurance Company, a position he had held since about 1805). His will, available from the National Archives at Kew, shows that his wife's name was Mary.
Mary's will is also in the National Archives. Bequests to a sister, Catherine Harding, suggest that Mary is the Mary Harding who married a William Gonne (then of Ware) at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire 31 May 1790 [according to Hertfordshire County Council's online marriages index]. Parish records on Familysearch suggest that she was the daughter of Robert and Mary Harding, baptised at Broxbourne on 9 Oct 1768. The will is accompanied by documents stating that, shortly before her death, Mary had moved back to Portugal, and that she died in Oporto in October 1825.
On closer examination of RS's letter of 20 Feb 1796 to his friend G.C. Bedford mentioning his "female friend here", I agree with the editors of the online edition that he is probably referring neither to Mary Barker, nor to Mary Gonne, but to the daughter of Mrs Tonkins. However, in his letter of 11 Nov 1814, to Neville White, he claims to have known Mrs Gonne for nineteen years, which would be an acceptable rounding-up if he had met her soon after his first arrival in Lisbon, about 20 January 1796.
I've now created some extra pages full of information about the Gonne family, and the ancestry of William and Mary's great-granddaughter, Yeats' muse Maud Gonne.
|Charlotte Smith et al.
(see page 3)
|Google Books shows a Miss Barker of Congreve among the subscribers for "Poems on Several Occasions" by Worcestershire-born Mary Darwall, published by a Walsall bookseller in 1794.
The meticulous diaries of philosophical writer William Godwin (father of Mary Shelley) are now available online at the Bodeian Library website, and they show that on several occasions when he visited Charlotte Smith, Miss Barker popped up (he had a code "adv" to indicate somebody who arrived unexpectedly at any social event he attended): 24 Dec 1798; 1 Mar 1800; 26 Dec 1801; 16 Jan 1802. On one occasion, 12 Feb 1800, she was one of Mrs Smith's official teatime guests, along with Coleridge.
|Mary's mother Mary
(see pages 3 & 17)
|According to a genealogy website, Mary, daughter of Francis and Hannah Homfray, was baptised 22 Jul 1753 at Old Swinford, Worcestershire.
|What brought Miss Barker to Teddesley?
(see page 3)
|In June 2006 I was contacted by Robert Maddocks, author of the books "The Good Old Grit- A History of the People of Penkridge 1270-1939" (1994) and "Penkridge: 1930 to 1970- The Day Before Yesterday" (2002). In his research for an intended new book, about the Littleton family and their influence on the area (published in 2014 as "The Littletons of Teddesley Hall: The Lives and Times of a Staffordshire Family 1740-1930", ISBN 978-0992671440), he has found various references I missed, perhaps the most interesting of which are in the journals of Sir Edward Littleton's heir:
In January 1855, Edward Walhouse Littleton (known since 1835 as Lord Hatherton, following a long Parliamentary career) found some letters written in 1812 by his father, Moreton Walhouse of Hatherton (son of Moreton Walhouse snr. and his second wife Frances, sister of Sir Edward Littleton). Lord Hatherton's journal entry for 21 Jan 1855 muses on these letters, and on the tangled relationship between his father, and Sir Edward, and "a small circle of low bred, dishonest and designing people"- notable among whom were Miss Mary Barker and her brother-in-law William Brewe, Sir Edward's estate steward.
At least, that was Walhouse's perception of them, with which Lord Hatherton tended to agree- but the problems began before he was born, and he had probably been fed his parents' version of events from the start. In an earlier journal entry, 21 Aug 1849, Lord Hatherton had indicated that Sir Edward had been angered by Walhouse's marriage to Anne Portal, who, though her father Abraham was a much-admired goldsmith (also a poet and playwright- but eventually a bankrupt), was "not strictly within his own sphere of life".
The waters are muddied somewhat by other snippets of information Robert Maddocks has supplied about Moreton Walhouse. It seems that Walhouse's own father may not have been over-fond of him, as he arranged in his will for his widow to retain control of the young man's inheritance at Hatherton; Lord Hatherton's reflection on this many years later was that "I imagine he was not strongly attached to my father". Also, when Lord Hatherton (or rather, then just Edward Walhouse) was a pupil at Rugby School in the early years of the 19th century, Sir Edward Littleton's solicitor paid him a visit to warn him that his father should modify his behaviour to avoid irritating Sir Edward.
Finally, there's the very curious story of Louisa Hamilton [to be seen in a bundle of papers at Staffordshire Record Office, ref. D260/M/F/5/34]. She was the daughter of Cyrus Hamilton, a black servant employed by Sir Edward, and awarded an annuity (much much smaller than Mary Barker's) in his will. Cyrus had died relatively young, in 1825, thus ending the annuity and throwing his family into poverty. After Lord Hatherton died in 1863, Louisa sent begging letters claiming that her father had actually been Sir Edward's adopted son, and that "if it was not for my father the late lord H. would not have the Teddesley estate. I know more than anyone would think". Legally, the latter claim was unlikely as the estate automatically passed by "entail" to the heirs of Frances Littleton unless Sir Edward had children, but Louisa insisted, "The entail could be broken and would have been but for my father". Also, more relevantly for this website, she claimed that when she was a child, she had once passed on to Lord Hatherton the sum of £300, which she had been given by Miss Barker after accepting an invitation to visit her at her home in the north (she was accompanied on the long trip by a Mr Shaw, apparently Relieving Officer for Penkridge parish).
Set against that last claim must be a statement from one of Lord Hatherton's early journals, 10 Dec 1818: "Received a picture from Miss Barker with her annual begging letter for money". That was just four months before she left for France; the wording suggests that she had been writing similar letters for at least a couple of years before, and that the money she wanted was over and above her generous annuity. At best it seems that she had run into financial trouble within months of starting the Borrowdale house, though perhaps between 1812 and 1815 she had had sufficient spare cash to give away £300.
PS: Louisa's tales were not believed, but in a spirit of charity she was given a pension of £9/2/- a year.
So what does all the above tell us? One of the most curious things, as Robert pointed out to me, is the similarity between Mary Barker- the daughter of an ironmaster, but inclined to the literary life, and Anne Walhouse, daughter of a metal craftsman with literary ambitions. It is very clear that Sir Edward Littleton had problems with his theoretical heir, Moreton Walhouse (even without the 1855 journal entries, there's the matter of Sir Edward's will obeying the entail by bequeathing the estate to young Edward W. instead of his father). Given the evidence for Walhouse's behaviour as a young adult, it seems that Sir Edward, particularly following his heir's marriage, to a woman who seems, from Lord Hatherton's account, to have had rather more dynamic personality than her husband, needed some way to limit the potential damage to the family inheritance.
Was Mary Barker the way he chose? There's something very odd about an old man inviting a teenage girl to share his house, but is it creepy-odd, or subtle-odd? Sir Edward's late wife had years of ill-health, so there was no good reason to suppose that he was incapable of belatedly fathering a direct heir if, one night, Mary Barker had chosen to take their relationship to a more physical level- and she and he were both free to marry. If Sir Edward understood this, and Mary understood this, and Moreton and Anne Walhouse understood this, nothing needed to happen- so long as the Walhouses didn't irritate Sir Edward too much.
So, we now have a hypothesis that Sir Edward invited his metalworker's daughter to move in, as both a threat and an example, not many years after Walhouse married his metalworker's daughter. Mary Barker played her part to the end, and, crucially, never took the step which would have made her Sir Edward's wife, wealthy widow, and mother of an heir with not a drop of Walhouse blood. Sir Edward thus maintained some control over the Walhouses, resulting in serious resentment, but a much-improved next generation- yet he never quite sacrificed his dignity by embarking on a sexual relationship with Mary. For her restraint, the Walhouses owed Mary Barker a great deal- doubling her annuity was the least they could do after they got the result they wanted.
Also, just for fun, here's an early entry from the book "Extracts from the personal diary, between the years 1817 - 1862 of Edward Walhouse Littleton afterwards the first Lord Hatherton 1791-1863":
Feb. 8th London. Gave a dinner to Mr. Milne, M.P. for Aberdeen. Mr. Milne knew intimately Mr. Fisher Littleton, Brother of Sir E. Littleton who had lived close to Aberdeen under the feigned name of Smith for 25 years. He had assumed this name, and place of retirement in order to avoid prosecution for his wife's debts, from whom he was separated and who I believe was afterwards insane. A person by the name of Rice lived with Mr. F. Littleton as his wife and although the Duchess of Gordon and one or two others of their neighbours knew who she really was, they discreetly and good-naturedly said nothing and received her in her assumed character. Mr. Fisher Littleton enjoyed a very high character for hospitality and kindness among all his neighbours. ...
|The plot thickens ...
(see page 3)
|In March 2013, Robert Maddocks reported further discoveries about the Littleton / Walhouse awkwardness, with the proviso that "It all hangs on whether we can identify Hannah Barker.". Happily, the requisite information was available via the International Geneaolgical Index (she was Mary's sister, baptised at Penkridge on 16 July 1777) so here goes:
Robert had, while looking for something else entirely, found two letters sharing an envelope in Staffordshire Record Office bundle D260/M/T/5/110. The envelope bore the notation "Two letters to be preserved and put by — EL, 1804, 1811". "EL" was Sir Edward, who also added a note clarifying the context of the more significant letter.
This letter was sent to Sir Edward by Moreton Walhouse, from Hatherton, on 15 January 1804. In it, he reported an extraordinary confrontation with Hannah Barker, who gave him a note bearing a "riddle", and told him that he would not be guilty of murder if he could produce his "other son". She went on to suggest that Walhouse and "Slaney" (Richard Slaney, the vicar of Penkridge, who, according to Sir Edward's note, "made his addresses to Miss Hannah Barker for some years and deserted [?] her, in which he certainly used her very ill.") were keen for Sir Edward to die (by poison if necessary). Walhouse proposed to take legal action as soon as Sir Edward gave his assent. Sir Edward, having investigated, further explained in his note: "Miss Hannah Barker told me that Mr Walhouse took very improper liberties with her on Twelfth Day as he had frequently done before and which provoked her to write the note alluded to."
So, it seems that Moreton Walhouse may have been in the habit of taking "improper liberties" with young women, that in one instance this allegedly resulted in the birth of a son, and that the said child mysteriously disappeared. As discussed above, Walhouse did indeed have a great deal to lose if Sir Edward should manage to father an heir before he died; it took me a while to work out, with more help from Mr Maddocks, just how Mr Slaney fitted into the supposed inheritance plot. Richard's grandfather Robert Slaney was brother of Moreton's grandmother Elizabeth. So far I have not been able to find out what happened to Hannah Barker, but Walhouse and Slaney both prospered.
(see pages 4-5)
|According to "The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen" by Edward Copeland & Juliet McMaster, records of Hookham & Carpenter preserved in the National Archives (ref. C104/75/2, page 138) show that 750 copies of "A Welsh Story" were printed, costing the publishers £61 for paper, just under £50 for typesetting, proofreading and printing, and £6 for advertising. Published in June, the book had sold less than half of its modest print-run by September, leaving Mary over £48 in debt to the firm. Copeland & McMaster also note something I had suspected, after various searches, to be true- that Miss Barker's book (unlike, they observe, books produced by Jane Austen's brothers and cousins) was apparently never reviewed.
That being the case, it's very heartening to see a modern literary scholar taking an interest in the book. At the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies annual conference in January 2016, Mary Chadwick, reviews editor for the International Journal of Welsh Writing in English, gave a talk titled "Making Space for Wollstonecraft: Mary Barker's A Welsh Story (1798)", which "traces the influence of Wollstonecraft's work on A Welsh Story, the only novel published by the undeservedly forgotten Mary Barker". This was published in 2017 in the journal Romantic Textualities ( doi.org/10.18573/j.2017.10151 and romtext.cardiffuniversitypress.org/articles/abstract/10.18573/j.2017.10151/). It's a fascinating and valuable study, though I'm slightly peeved that the author removes everything up to the comma when quoting my sentence "In the second chapter of Volume 3, she betrays her readers and it all begins to fall apart" (p4: the betrayal, in my view, was the revelation that rational Charlotte had abandoned herself- and her younger sister- to the vagaries of fate by deciding on the spur of the moment to sail to India; a decision which by authorial fiat worked out well for both of them).
|Welsh Story: publicity
|Thanks to the British Library / Gale Group British newspapers 1600-1900 online project, members of subscribing institutions can now search by keyword in a wide selection of historic newspapers. We are thus able to discover the following advertisements, both published in various newspapers in the same weeks, but here taken from The Courier and Evening Gazette:
21 Oct 1797:
A WELCH STORY,
In Three handsome Volumes, 12mo,
Price to Subscribers, Ten Shillings and Sixpence.
Subscriptions received by the publishers, Messrs. Hookham and Carpenter, 14, Old Bond-street; by Mr. Meyler, Bath, Mr. Sprange, Tunbridge Wells, and Mr. Moore, Buxton.
15 Jun 1798:
Dedicated, by permission, to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of YORK,
A WELCH STORY. By
"On Faith and Hope the World will disagree,
"But all mankind concur in Charity."
The Staffordshire Advertiser went further in its edition of 18 Aug 1798 (page 3):
DESCRIPTION OF A MAN OF THE WORLD. From Miss BARKER'S Welch Story, a Novel.
(Lengthy quotation given).
As seems so often the case with Miss Barker, these adverts raise more questions than they answer. Most notably: does the money-raising intent of the publication mean that Mary had not by the autumn of 1797 joined forces with the fabulously wealthy and charitable Sir Edward, or merely that despite her connection, she maintained a degree of independence?
|1798: A worthy object in distress
|Not necessarily the worthy object referred to in publicity for A Welsh Story, but definitely worth noting. The National Library of Wales / Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru has a large collection of documents relating to 18th century Welsh writer and scholar (and literary faker) Edward Williams, better known by his Druidic name, Iolo Morganwg. Among these are a letter from Mary and two drafts for Williams' reply, in bundle MS 21280E.
Item 9, Mary's letter, sent from Congreve to Mr Williams at Flimstone [i.e Flimston / Flemingston / Trefflemin, southeast of Cowbridge] on 19 February 1798 is described in the catalogue as "eulogistic" and expresses "her with to be acquainted with him". In his draft replies (items 862 & 863) dated 26 March, he apparently included a History of my own life. Given that much of his life was spent on the borderline of poverty, he might have been a suitable object for Miss Barker's charity. I hope to check the printed edition of these letters, The Correspondence of Iolo Morganwg: 1797-1809, in the not-too-distant future.
|1799: What on earth ....?
|From the index to the British Newspaper Archive ( www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk )
Staffordshire Advertiser, Saturday 21 September 1799:
"TEN GUINEAS REWARD. A Most Scandalous and Malicious Letter having been received by Mr. BARKER, dated Stafford, September limned A Friend; whoever will give information the writer it, or any other Person who has spoken in a manner which the Laws of this Kingdom can punish, any part of Mr. Barker's family, shall receive TEN GUINEAS Reward.
Congreve, September 15th, 1799."
|Sending Joan of Arc
(see page 5)
Decades later, Mary marked the letter RS had sent her in Bath on 8 July 1800 (number 536 in part 2 of the online edition), informing her that a copy of Joan of Arc was being sent to Congreve, and asking her to look out for his brother Thomas if she passed through Plymouth, with the annotation:
"The first letter I ever received from dear Southey
|Togetherness in London
(see page 6)
|Bradford Keyes Mudge "Sara Coleridge, a Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays" (1989) [quoting Sarah Fricker Coleridge]:
"Derwent was born at Keswick Sep 14 1800." ...
"When Derwent was nearly a year old, Southey and Edith came to us at G H and he went to Ireland to Mr. Abbot, (no Corry) as Secretary. Edith stayed with me. Then the Southeys went to London- they, Mrs. Southey Sen & Miss Barker and Aunt Lovell lived at a Silversmiths in the Strand. After Mrs. Southey's death (Jan 5 1802), the Southeys and Aunt removed to Bristol where Margaret was born."
|Early readers of A Welsh Story
|The New York Society Library has published details from its early borrowing records, and from at least 1800 (records for 1798-9 are missing), A Welsh Story was included in its loan stock ( http://cityreaders.nysoclib.org/Detail/objects/4410 ). Between 1800 and 1805, volume 1 was checked out 141 times, volume 2 133 times, and volume 3 126 times. Just over a quarter of borrowers (18) were in commerce, the next largest category being borrowers involved in religion (7). About 63% of loans were for a week or less.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, one of the settings for the book, page 216 of Jean Agnew's edition of The Drennan-McTier Letters: 1802-1819 (1999), the correspondence between Dr William Drennan and his sister Martha Drennan McTier includes a comment:
"We read lately a novel which I think a good one called A Welsh Story. There are some excellent observations in it."
Another book I need to consult in a good library some time!
|1805 visit to Keswick
(see pages 10-11)
|One of the more curious revelations in W.A. Speck's biography of RS (p112-3) combines information from the letters with other sources: when Mary came up to Keswick for her long visit, beginning on 24 Sep 1805, RS left Greta Hall after she'd been there just ten days, for a fortnight's visit to Scotland, during which he came to a decision about a plan he had to spend a year in Portugal- he wrote to his wife Edith that as she was unhappy with the idea, he could not go without her (it wasn't quite a final decision, but even after further deliberation he stuck with it). Just a few weeks earlier, he had been writing to Mary about a completely different proposal for a foreign trip, to Amsterdam, again with the family, but inviting Mary along, both as illustrator for the book he proposed to write and as a companion for himself and Edith.
|The Friend and other subscriptions
(see page 17)
|"Letters from the Lake Poets ... to Daniel Stuart ..." (1899) includes a list of the original subscribers to The Friend in 1809, which includes "Miss Barker, Sr. Ed. Littleton's, Teddesley Park, Sheffield" [sic, per printed version] among many other familiar names.
Around the same time, we find "Miss Barker, Penkridge" subscribing to "An account of the celebration of the jubilee, on the 25th October, 1809" by "a lady, the wife of a naval officer" (published that year in Birmingham).
In 1810, " Miss Barker" is listed second after the Rev. J. Wallhouse among the commoners who subscribed for the publication in 1810 of " Sorrows Not Merited; or, The Maternal Victim" by A.C. Holbrook of Hixon, Staffordshire (Sir Edward Littleton is included in the much shorter preceding list of noble subscribers).
|The 1810 letters gap
(see page 17)
The online edition of RS's letters contains several letters from him to the Senhora in the later months of 1810. One of these, number 1790, undated but probably written around June, was of particular interest to Prof. Speck, for it shows the depth of RS's feelings for his friend:
... "Ten years intimacy, & more intercourse during those years than often falls to the lot of persons of different sexes who are not related have given us a thorough knowledge of each other, & mutual esteem. And without assenting to the system of your worthy Uncle respecting the fitness of having two wives, — there is certainly a very great fitness that my daughter and your god-child should have two mothers." ...
It's not difficult to work out why RS's children chose to omit that letter from their publications. Another of the missed letters, number 1847 (again undated, but probably written around December) is less dramatic, but quite interesting, because RS explains to Mary that his late landlord and neighbour Mr Jackson had, shortly before his death in October, begun building a new house "adjoining what we used to call the wood-house. His brother is compleating it & it will be habitable next summer. It is a badly constructed house but would suit you perfectly should it happen to be unoccupied when you want it ."
The editors very properly identify this in a footnote as the beginning of Greta Lodge.
(see pages 18 & 27)
Letter 1930 in volume 4 of the online edition of RS's letters reveals that "Lines to a Noble Lord" was not Mary's first poetic defence of a friend:
RS to MB, 4 Jun 1811: ... Your verses have not been in the Courier. - the expression is not neat enough for the thought, except in the first stanza,- but the thought is appropriate as can be. The piece of criticism in question is matchless for self-contradiction & rank rascality of envious malice. ...
RS identifies the critic as "Gog" (his nickname for Francis Jeffrey). Footnotes explain that Jeffrey had reviewed "The Curse of Kehama" most unkindly (but, as we now know, prophetically) a few months earlier.
|Landor's tenant C.B.
(See pages 18-19)
|Letter 2033 in volume 4 of the online edition of RS's letters, RS to W.S. Landor, 9 Feb 1812, transcribes the full name of "C.B." as Charles Betham. One of the handy footnotes explains that his sister is writer and painter Matilda Betham, who had painted both RS and his family.
|Obituary of Sir Edward
(See page 19)
The Oxford Journal, 30 May 2012, has the following short obituary of Sir Edward Littleton:
At Teddesley Park, Staffordshire, in the 86th year of his age, Sir Edw. Littleton, Bart., M.P. He was elected in the year 1784 one of the representatives for Staffordshire, and continued to serve during seven successive Parliaments.
|Coming to live in Keswick
(see page 20-22)
|Another splendid find from Prof. Speck's research in America (home of a huge quantity of RS documents) for his biography of RS is a letter from Mary (see p150), written just after Sir Edward's death in May 1812, making arrangements for her move to Keswick- even containing a blunt suggestion that the Coleridges should give up "their" part of Greta Hall, for which by this time RS was paying. We know, of course, that Mary ended up in Greta Lodge instead, and Prof. Speck offers an interesting speculation about her first few months in residence (p160-1). Early in 1813, RS was working on the poem "Roderick the Last of the Goths", which contains some remarkable passages written from the viewpoint of a woman who fails to realise, until too late, that she is seducing a married man whom she loves- could Mary have provided direct inspiration for this?
(see page 21)
|Looking for something else entirely, I found, in May 2008, the following advert in the Westmorland Advertiser for 20 July 1811:
AND ENTERED UPON IMMEDIATELY,
Jonathan Otley, of Keswick, will shew the Premises, and treat with any Person inclinable to take the same.
Keswick, July 19, 1811.
I originally wrote that this advert appeared only once, suggesting that the house was let almost immediately (but evidently not to Mary Barker, as this was several months before Sir Edward Littleton's death)- actually, a slight variant, also specifying that "an Acre and a Half of good Land may be had therewith, if required", had been published in the Pacquet months earlier, on 19 March 1811.
|The Lodge riddle solved
(See page 21)
Three letters in volume 4 of the online edition of RS's letters help to solve the mystery of the 1811 letting of Greta Lodge (or rather, to be precise, they reveal who was in residence at the time when Mary needed a home in Keswick in 1812).
2102. R.S. to M.B., 28 May 1812: ... It is beyond measure vexatious to think that this White-widow as poor Jopy Nicolson calls her in Cumbrian-English, should have taken up her abode on the hill here just at this time! ...
2112. RS to Mary Barker, 9 June 1812: ... We are afraid Neddy will marry before she goes to London, in which case it is to be feared marriage will not rid us of our neighbours. I want Mr White to come for her a-la-Lenora: if he came belly & all he *** make such a Ghost as was never seen before.
2142. RS to Charles Danvers, 6 September 1812: ... You will be glad to hear that our quondam next door neighbour has taken unto herself a husband, who is about to take her off: that the lease is transferred to Miss Barker, & that she is in good hopes of getting some part of her goods in tomorrow — Never was any thing more fortunate than this. ...
A footnote explains that the "White-widow" was "the former mistress and heiress of William White of Keswick (d. 1811)"
Intrigued by the above, I made use of some of the other amazing resources which have been made available online since I wrote the book. Once again, the British Library / Gale Group/ Cengage Learning indexed online reprint of 19th century British newspapers (available free to Cumbria Libraries members) provided this small note of White's death in London:
The General Chronicle and Literary Magazine, Volume 4; Obituary, Dec 1811:
At Mr. Mann's, Cornhill, William White, Esq. of Keswick, Cumberland.
I then downloaded White's will from the National Archives at Kew. It was made in London on 30 November 1811, revealing that William White Esquire, of Keswick, had formerly lived in Bombay, in the "East Indies". The residuary legatee was "Elizabeth Bowell, Spinster, who is now in my service". Possibly to protect her from the iniquities of English property law as it then applied to women, he also bequeathed investments worth £20,000 to trustees for her benefit.
Also available online is the complete archive of the official government newspaper, the London Gazette, which has been published since the 17th century. The edition of 1 August 1843 invites claims in a case in the Court of Chancery, concerning the estate of the late Elizabeth Frampton, widow, of Englefield-green in Surrey, who had died on 11 October 1842, without any children. Frampton was the married name of Elizabeth Bowell, and the issue in the case was the over-complex wording of William White's will, which made it unclear who was entitled to the £20,000 after Elizabeth's death. The details of the case are reported in Reports of Cases Decreed in the High Court of Chancery by the Right Hon. Sir Lancelot Shadwell, Vice-Chancellor of England, vol. XIV (1847) by Nicholas Simons (various copies available online)- Elizabeth's next-of-kin, rather than William's, were deemed to be entitled.
|Greta Lodge arrival
(see page 21)
Letters in volume 4 of the online edition of RS's letters show that Mary established herself at Greta Lodge in September 1812:
RS to Charles Danvers, 6 September 1812 (no. 2142):
You will be glad to hear that our quondam next door neighbour has taken unto herself a husband, who is about to take her off: that the lease is transferred to Miss Barker, & that she is in good hopes of getting some part of her goods in tomorrow — Never was any thing more fortunate than this.
RS to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 29 Sep 1812 (no. 2152):
I have stolen away from an evening party at the Senhora's to write to you.
The Senhora has been highly flattered to day by an application from Mr Edmondson, who requested that he purchase a pound of her Epsom salts, — because he despaired of getting any so good. She gave him about half-a pound, & told him she hoped that would answer any present want, but she could part with no more. He seems to look upon her house as a second Apothecaries Hall.
- but she took a while to sort herself out (no. 2154. RS to Charles Danvers, 7 Oct 1812: "The Senhora is getting in order, but not very rapidly.").
|Miss Fletcher's arrival
(see page 24)
|Mary Elizabeth Burkett & J. D.G. Sloss "William Green of Ambleside: A Lake District Artist, 1760-1823" (1984) p30
"Fletcher thy name is quackery", he fumes after being manoeuvred out of renting a house he had had his eye on, by a local headmistress.
[from Green's diary, apparently at Abbot Hall, Kendal]
Rawnsley, H. D. "The Last of the Calverts", Cornhill Magazine (New Series 14, 1890), pp494-520
"Mrs Joshua Stanger, of Fieldside, Keswick, and Mrs. Harrison, of Green Bank, or Scale How, Ambleside, were the last of their generation"
(Mrs Stanger = Mary Calvert, born 1804 daughter of RS & Wordsworth's friend William Calvert of Greta Bank, north of Keswick. Mrs Harrison was Dorothy Wordsworth, born 1801, daughter of Richard Wordsworth of Whitehaven, who spent much of her youth in William's household, and married Benson Harrison of Ulverston in 1823)
"They had been schoolfellows in the olden times together, and whether under Miss Fletcher or Miss Dowling, of Belle-vue, the little Mary Calvert and the elder Dorothy Wordsworth had learnt lessons of geniality and benevolence I know not, but this I know, that for the past half century and more the towns of Keswick and Ambleside have felt that no public work could go forward for the good of the people that did not at once commend itself to these ladies and obtain their aid ...."
[Rawnsley reports conversation with Mrs Stanger:]
"Once she told me of the schooldays at Bellevue, Ambleside, where she met a former scholar of the school in the person of the daughter of Wordsworth's Whitehaven cousin Richard, Dorothy Wordsworth, who was domiciled at Rydal Mount about 1813, and who with Dora came daily to the classes. Mary Calvert, being of Dora Wordsworth's own age, was naturally attracted to "bright-minded Dora," of whom she ever spoke with love; but the fresh beauty of that elder Dorothy struck her girlish fancy, and only last year she asked me for news of beautiful Mrs. Harrison, of Green Bank, then in her eighty-seventh year."
|The almighty row in 1814
(see page 26)
|A further letter transcribed by Kirkpatrick and quoted in W.A. Speck's biography of RS (p157), from May 1814 (number 2422 in the online edition of RS's letters), throws a little light- just enough to cause further confusion- on the row between Mary and the Fricker sisters which had begun earlier that year. Like Dorothy Wordsworth, RS had been hoping that "a chance meeting" would lead to a reconciliation, but of course the reason he had to write a letter was because Dorothy had temporarily taken Mary away from Keswick to Rydale Mount. RS refers to a note Mary had written, the last four lines of which contained "all that should have been said"- but the earlier lines he considers "improper"; annoyingly, he does not make it clear whether any of the Fricker sisters had read the note. Prof. Speck suggests that the problem must have been solved when Mary returned from Rydale, as the preface to "The Doctor" was written on 4 June- the reference he gives is to the published version, not a manuscript of this date, but the point remains, I think, essentially valid.
|Young Basil Montagu's departure
(see page 26)
|In letter 2420, in volume 4 of the online edition of RS's letters, dated 13 May 1814, he reports that young Basil "has this day left Keswick without any dangerous symptom remaining upon him".
|Pople the printer
(see page 30)
|Letters in the John Murray collection within the Leigh Hunt archive at the University of Iowa Libraries (ref. MsL M9826c) listed as item nos. 136 &137 on the online catalogue indicate that Mr Pople's first name was William.
|Another dedicated copy of "Lines"
|Google Books scan of "Lines", from a copy now owned by Oxford University, has a dedication: "Sara Coleridge, from her friend the Author" under which somebody has written (a little shakily) "Miss Barker".
|The stolen bonfire
(See page 33)
Letter 2643 in volume 4 of the online edition of RS's letters, RS to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 August 1815, gives more details of the unauthorised bonfire party on Skiddaw:
... some of the rabble here got up between three & four in the morning, & set fire to it when none but themselves could see it, — consuming thus materials what it had cost £7. to place there, & throwing into the fire the cannon which had been carried up. This is a specimen of Keswick feeling. ...
PS: RS's letters describing the rearranged celebration a few days later are numbers 2648 and 2649 in this edition.
|Another poem by Mary, 1816
|Detailed cataloguing work by the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere reveals a poem by Mary Barker on leaves 12r-13r of Dorothy Wordsworth's commonplace book, held in their collection (ref. DCMS 120). Titled 'On the Birth of the Littleton's eldest child - a son' it was copied by Dorothy on 6 Jan 1816. First line: "Of all thy ancient House, first born". Gordon Graham Wordsworth notes that 'The child appears to have been Edward Richard, 2nd Baron Hatherton b. Dec 31 1815'.
|Poetry again, and the other MB again
Subscribers to "Poetical Effusions" by Isabella Lickbarrow (Kendal, printed by M. Branthwaite & Co., 1814) include:
Miss Barker, Keswick
R. Southey, Esq. Keswick
W. Wordsworth, Esq. Rydal Mount
Hutchinson, Rydal Mount
Subscribers to "The Lay of Marie: A Poem" by Matilda Betham (published by Rowland Hunter, London, 1816) include:
Barker, Miss, Greta Lodge
|Mary and young Herbert
(see pages 36-37)
|Part 5 of the Collected Letters includes (no. 2753), a report to Robert's brother Harry on young Herbert's illness, written on 14 April, including the note that "The Senhora is with him night & day, & is of the utmost use — I know not what we should do without her." and a postscript: "The Senhora bids me say she thinks the symptoms better within the last twenty four hours."
|Purgatory in Paradise
(see pages 38 and 36-7)
|A casual web trawl in January 2021 revealed an article "Archive Spotlight: Robert Southey at Keswick Museum" by Anna Mercer in the British Association for Romantic Studies blog (26 Nov 2020) including an image of a letter from Herbert Southey himself, to Miss Barker at Rydal Mount ("Or any one else in case she is set off"), dated 3 November, mostly about his parents' return from the continental trip [indicating the year as 1815, and adding a new detail about Mary's activities while the Southeys were away] but beginning thus: "I have the pleasure to tell you that S. Yewdale has permission to sell her land free, she desired you might be told this at your return."
That, of course, changes the timeline of the purchase of the site for the Rosthwaite house, indicating that the freehold conversion mentioned on page 38 was a result of Mary's wish to buy the land, months before Herbert's death, rather than preparation for an attempt to put it on the market in 1816 to which the grieving Mary responded.
|Robert & Mary post-1816
(see pages 37-47)
|Although W.A. Speck's biography of RS rather fudges the separation between Robert and Mary after young Herbert's death, letters omitted from the various printed collections but included in Part 5 of the online edition do reveal a great deal more about the purgatory years that followed, pretty much invalidating my notions about RS's attitude to the Senhora, but apparently confirming my notions about the Senhora's own feelings.
On 1 May, a severely depressed Robert wrote to Grosvenor Bedford about publication of "The Lay of the Laureate: Carmen Nuptiale" with the comment "The Senhora here threatens to quarrel with you fiercely if you disadvise the publication, & she abuses me bravely for having suggested such a thought." For the future, he considered a poem to be titled "Consolation," reasoning that "It is better that these feelings should have a channel opened for them". He suggested to Bedford that this, if this were to be published, "Nash or the Senhora would make me some drawings for it". On 10 May (no. 2785), responding to a letter from Bedford, he reported that "The Senhora says that the beginning of your letter has given her the stomach ache for the rest of the evening, — & that she has unluckily no assafelidated snuff to comfort her. It was a wicked trick she says."
Five months later, writing again to Bedford (no. 2849, 5 Oct 1816) and still quite depressed, he provided what seems to be the earliest surviving report that "the Senhora is building a house in Borrowdale, & the river comes to visit her there. I recommend a life boat, a life-preserver, a cork under-waistcoat to be slept in, — & some lessons in swimming. Mrs C. would not go up Causey Pike with us ..." (more on that trek shortly). Writing to Harry on 25 October (no. 2854), he reported a visit from Nash, who had made "admirable pictures of the children ... He is now in Borrodale where the Senhora is building a house destined inevitably to be known hereafter by the name of Barkers Folly. Westall & I set out this morning to bring him home under an escort, but the rain drove us back ..." Remarkably, as early as 6 December, he was able to inform William Peachy (no. 2873) that "Miss Barker has finished the outside of her house" which suggests she had begun work quite a while before the October letters. It seems that the Lake District itself was easing some of his pain, for he added "I was thrice upon Causey Pike this summer, & succeeded in getting Mrs Southey & the Senhora there with Sara, Edith & Bertha. ... The Ladies carted it to the foot of the mountain, & we had a cold dinner by the beck side when we came down — it was one of the most delightful of these excursions."
A letter to Samuel Tillbrook on 22 December (no. 2883) brought up the topic of pictures: "That word reminds me of Miss Barker, who is painting with great industry & great success, — so much so that if she perseveres she is in a fair way of attaining to a very distinguished rank in the art." He made similar observations to William Peachy in January 1817 (no. 2908) and to Sir George Beaumont on 1 February (no. 2912): "Miss Barker is painting with great perseverance, and, as far as I can judge, with great success. She tells me a great deal about difficulties, and of being provoked with what she has done, and with what she is doing, but she goes on as long as the light will permit. Miss Hutchinson is with her at present, and has been employing herself very kindly as an amanuensis for me." That ties in neatly, of course, with Miss Hutchinson's letter of 7 February, which I had reported (top of page 39) as the earliest post-crisis letter mentioning Mary.
|The Homfrays- a problem
(see page 40)
|It looks as if the information about the Homfrays on page 40 is in the wrong place, or rather the wrong time:
The Cambrian, 13 Nov 1813:
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION,
By the order and under the direction of the Assignees of the Estate and Effects of Sir Jeremiah Homfray, Knight, a Bankrupt,
On Saturday the 20th day of November, 1813,
By PETER LAUDER"
[coal mines, land, annuities, furniture, household effects etc.]
The Cambrian, 5 Mar 1814:
"THE Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt, bearing date the 30th day of September, 1813, awarded and issued forth against Sir JEREMIAH HOMFERAY, Knight, of Cwm Rhondda, in the County of Glamorgan, Coal-Merchant, Dealer and Chapman, intend to meet on the 23d of March next, at eleven in the forenoon, at the Cardiff-Arms-inn, in the town of Cardiff, in the county aforesaid, to make a Dividend of the Estate and Effects of the said Bankrupt ..."
(see page 40)
|Writing to his wife as he set off on the continental trip which his friends hoped would ease his melancholy, RS remarked (8 May 1817, no. 2992) "Love to all & tell the Senhora I will be satisfied if she paints one picture a week during my absence the size of Porthogo, or three smaller ones". The editors of the Collected Letters identify Porthogo (now Porth yr Ogof) as "A cavern near Neath, Wales" but according to "A Second Walk Through Wales" by the Rev. Richard Warner (1800) p129, it was then, as the name suggests, the dramatic ravine which forms the gateway to the cave- which is not very close to Neath, but situated at Ystradfellte in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
RS's letter of 17 May from Paris (no. 2997) is covered on page 40, but on 2 July he wrote again to his wife from Echichens near Lausanne in Switzerland (no. 3004), announcing that "I bought here an inkstand & a lamp of a green stone which is found on Mont Blanc, & called pierre ollaire, for the Senhoras house in Borrodale — things of no great beauty & little cost but interesting for the place from whence they came: the lamp has a wick of amianthus, which is to last for ever & burn without being consumed."
|1817: Stop Thief!
|Carlisle Patriot, Saturday 05 July 1817, p3
On the 28th ult. John THOMPSON, late of the parish of Crosthwaite, painter, was committed to our gaol by the Rev. Isaac DENTON, charged upon oath with stealing two books the property of Miss BARKER, of Keswick.
|Carlisle Patriot, Saturday 19 July 1817, p2:
For a Limited Number of Young Ladies,
AT BELLE-VUE HOUSE, AMBLESIDE.
MISS FLETCHER, (impressed with a grateful sense of the favours of her Friends since her residence in this part) continues, with the assistance of Miss HILL, by every means in her power, to promote the general improvement of the young Ladies entrusted to her care. The greater part of the winter evenings are devoted to reading; Miss FLETCHER is anxious to improve the moral disposition of her Pupils, and to direct their minds to the attainment of every quality that forms a good and amiable character.
Board, 30 Guineas per annum; including English Grammar, Geography, History, and general Information; Needle and Fancy Work. Parlour Boarders 40 Guineas.
Day Boarders, 11 Guineas per annum. Day Scholars, above 7 years of age, 6 Guineas; under that age, 5 Guineas. Entrance, 1 Guinea.
Italian and French, 4 Guineas per annum; Instructions on the Piano-forte and Singing, 6 Guineas; Harp Instructions, 6 Guineas; Drawing, 4 Guineas; Entrance to each, 1 Guinea; Writing and Arithmetic, 3 Guineas; Use of the Globes, 2 Guineas; Dancing, 3 Guineas.
Tea, morning and evening, 3 Guineas per annum; Washing, a separate charge; each young Lady must bring a pair of Sheets, 6 hand Towels, a Silver Dessert and Tea Spoon.
A Quarter's Notice is requested before the removal of a Pupil, or a Quarter to be paid. Accounts to be settled half yearly.
BELLE-VUE HOUSE is well adapted for the reception of young Ladies, being in a healthy country, pleasantly situated in the vicinity of the Lakes, surrounded with the most enchanting prospects of Nature, and the neighbourhood highly respectable.
*** References can be given.
The School will recommence on the 28th instant.
July 16, 1817.
A postscript to the story of Miss Fletcher's school appears in Morley, Edith J. (Ed.) "The Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson with the Wordsworth Circle" Vol 1. (Oxford, 1927); letter from Dorothy Wordsworth to H.C.R., 3 Mar 1822:
asks H.C.R. whether "if you have opportunity you would tell Mrs Montagu that I never recommended Miss Fletcher as a Governess. She has very good dispositions & I believe a good temper. She was thought by many (but of this we are no judges) to be able to give instruction in Music, and I have reason to think she has a sufficient knowledge of French; but she was very deaf when resident in this country; and though I am told this infirmity did not hinder her from detecting false notes & perceiving gradations of sound in music, I am afraid she would be utterly unfit to give accurate instructions in other matters .. not to speak of the ill effects that might be produced on the manners and habits of Children by being under the government of a deaf person. I was quite shocked to hear of 'exertions made by me'- The Fact is that poor Miss Fletcher wrote to Mrs W. & me requesting us to recommend her. This letter I replied to telling her that neither Mrs W. nor I were judges of her qualifications in many points, & that we could not know in what degree her unfortunate deafness might disable her from giving instructions; adding that those Ladies who had employed her would be the judges of this.
I suspect that Miss F has copied those parts of my letter in which I spoke of our favorable opinion- omitting all that was said of our incompetence to judge, & of our apprehensions concerning her deafness. Otherwise Miss Benson could not have supposed that I would recommend her as a Governess. Miss Fletcher is a good kind-hearted creature, & I wish it were in my power to serve her; but should never think, whatever were my means, of attempting to do it in that way. Do excuse this long story, which, if you were not the kindest creature in the world, I should not have oppressed you with (and this is what you get by your kindness)." ...
Finally, this may or may not be the right person:
Staffordshire Gazette and County Standard, 8 Apr 1841
DEATH. April 1, at Burslem, Mrs. Sarah Fletcher, aged 77
|The location of the Borrowdale house
(see pages 42-43)
|In his book "Scafell: Portrait of a Mountain" (2007) photographer Bill Birkett tells us, on the subject of William Wordsworth's non-ascent of Scafell Pike: "the account, though not credited as such, was in fact written by his sister Dorothy, who visited the summit in 1818 with her friend Elizabeth Barker, who lived at Newton Place, opposite the Borrowdale Hotel." Given that in the very next paragraph he mentions William Green's "New Tourist's Guide," you would think he might at least have spotted the way Green listed Miss Barker's house under Rosthwaite, specifically (vol. 2 p136) "On the banks of the Stonethwaite arm of the Derwent" which very firmly rules out Newton Place. See my notes for these pages for an explanation of how I identified the property.
Heaven knows where Bill Birkett got the name "Elizabeth Barker".
|Not totally isolated
(see page 42)
|Two letters from Sara Hutchinson:
Wordsworth Trust collections: WLL / Hutchinson, Sara / 1 / 33a [to Thomas Monkhouse Esqre, at Budge Row, London]
Augt. 15th. [1817 per postmark]
I hope you will write to us soon and tell us what are your plans - whether you mean to remain in the country till after the Penrith Races or not - as I hear John intends to be there you will most likely wish to join him - Miss Barker and I still talk of travelling south together, but she will not be ready to leave Borrodale I guess soon; and indeed I suspect that she will be unable to leave it at all when the time comes - But I shall, Deo volante keep my resolution - and hope that I shall be of the continental party in the spring.
God bless you & believe me truly yours S.H.
WLMS H / 1 / 6 / 1 [to Thos. Monkhouse Esqre, Anthony Harrison's Esqre, Penrith]
[c1815- impossible; more likely Oct 1817]
My dear Tom
As I learn that you intend to be at Rydal Mount very soon I write to say that I shall be at Keswick on Monday & intend to return to Rydal on Tuesday so if you are disposed to come by that road you will find an agreeable party of [musicians] and others at Miss B on Monday Eving. The Fletchers came hither yesterday - & Dora Dismal & I dined at Rydale & drank tea here with Miss B yesterday afternoon we came at her earnest request to a Concert which is to be held here this eving The Southeys Mrs Cruthers & Dr. Bell are to be here - Mr W Fletcher is [stringing] up the [Harp] for his [List] - He & his Brother Tom play the violins & [Miss] B or Mrs. Cruthers I suppose the Harpsichord - If I had had any notion of being here I should have sent you word before that you might have joined "The harmonica society" here - because as Mr. Wistel [i.e. Westall?]says it is worth some trouble to be at the first concert in Borodale. ...
Yours truly S.H.
Collected Letters of RS, Part 5, no. 3032 [to Grosvenor Charles Bedford]
Wednesday Keswick 29 Oct. 1817
Westall is downstairs, with Dr Bell & Mrs Crothers & the Senhora. The snow is on the fells, — but the country still beautiful, — indeed I have never seen grander effects than what Shedaw called upon me to look at this afternoon.
|An alarming incident, 1817
Carlisle Patriot, 13 Dec 1817
On Saturday morning last, as a servant man of Mr. G. PEARSON's of Ambleside, was conveying Miss BARKER, of Greta Lodge, from Rydall Mount, the seat of W. WORDSWORTH, Esq., to her residence in Borrowdale, in a cart, the horse took fright in crossing a mountain between Keswick and the latter place, near Bowder-stone, and in spite of the man's efforts to prevent him, (who was leading the animal) ran the cart, with Miss B. in it, down a dangerous precipice of 30 or 40 yards depth; singular to relate, Miss BARKER escaped with only a few slight bruises, and the horse and cart were very little injured, which is to be attributed entirely to the wheels taking the hill together, the horse backing downwards and keeping his balance for some distance, making the most spirited efforts to regain the top, till at length, coming in contact with a huge rock, the cart was overturned against it, and prevented from going further; the neighbours lending their aid, the horse and cart were got to the road again, but with great difficulty.
[More on that exciting topic shortly ...]
|1818: back to friendship by post
(see page 42)
|Letter 3072 in part 5 of the online Collected Letters of RS was written to Mary about 29 January 1818:
Because you have not law enough upon your hands, I send you a case upon which I shall be much obliged to you to ask the advice of your nonpareil Lawyer Mr Edmunds.[Details of a complex Ambleside financial case follow, but then RS abruptly switches to a very different, very tantalising topic:]
"Nuns of the Desert indeed," — & a male visitor who talks of kissing! — Pray of what order may the Nuns be? — I like your old man much.
Evidently, the Senhora has yet again been amusing her friends with literary productions which we of the 21st century will probably never see.
|1818: mounting troubles
|On 27 February 1818, RS wrote to Andrew Bell (Collected Letters Part 5, no. 3083):
The Senhora is in Borrodale, full of cares, her own & Miss Fletchers, — & full of trouble, for the death of one of her brothers within a few weeks after he had arrived in Canada, — father of the little boy whom I believe you saw.
He explained more about both the death and last December's Bowder Stone accident, in a letter to William Peachy on 24 March (no. 3103):
Miss Barker has been in Borrodale for the last four months; — her brother Frederick (father of the little boy whom she has taken) died of a fever almost immediately upon his arrival at Montreal; — & she has hardly yet recovered from the shock of this unexpected intelligence. It was her friend Miss Fletcher who took that Lovers leap in the cart; how she the Lady, the horse, or the Cart escaped utter demolition is to me inconceivable, — they made their flying descent just beyond the Bowder Stone, immediately after going thro the gate, — & yet no injury whatever was sustained. ...
... adding in a note to Edward Nash a few days later (29 March 1818, no. 3107):
... Miss Barker is still in Borrodale, & has been there ever since you left us!
|- and what RS didn't mention
(see page 42)
|In summer 2006, Robert Maddocks discovered correspondence in the Staffordshire Record Office between Mary Barker and Sir Edward's successor, Edward Walhouse Littleton. On 28 Feb 1818, writing from "Rosthwaite House", following a severe illness (which she wryly noted would have benefited him financially if it had killed her) she was trying to help him prove that he was the heir to the Holme Lacey estate, following a rumour she had heard from some lawyers staying with Sir Jere Homfray. She also mentioned that "I am in the very midst of transcribing a comedy which I have just written and which I hope and firmly believe you will see acted in London very soon"
The (almost inevitable) sequel to that exciting announcement:
Wordsworth Trust collections: WLMS A / Coleridge, Sara / 2 [to Elizabeth Crumpe, Allan Bank]
February 27th 1819.
Yesterday I performed the pleasant task of answering a letter from my dear Derwent, in which amongst other things he gave an account of the private theatricals at Summer-hill; ... : this reminds me of Miss Barker's Comedy, which no doubt you have heard of; if so, you will be interested in it's fate; the gentleman to whom she sent the manuscript, and intrusted with the charge of getting it on the stage, after some delay, which kept her in dreadful suspense, returned for answer that he had been consulting with some of his friends, whom he reckoned better judges than himself, and they gave it as their opinion in which he intirely coincided, that however pleasant it might be in the reading, the piece was by no means fit for representation, chiefly on account of the want of "story, strong story, without which it can by no means succeed, there being a comparative languor in elegant dialogue unstoried." these are not I believe exactly the words, as I do but in part remember them and have not the letter to refer to; however they convey his meaning, though mangled in the expression:
your ever affectionate friend
|1818: The benefits of cronyism
|RS to G.C. Bedford, 13 April 1818 (Collected Letters Part 5, no. 3120):
My dear G.
Is it in your power to obtain letters of introduction to Calcutta for a man whom I am very desirous of assisting.
He is first cousin to Miss Barker, & eldest son to Sir Jere Homfray, — bred up in expectation of a good inheritance (four or five thousand a year) at Eton & at Ch Church, & now at the age of six or seven & twenty, by one of the revolutions of fortune in this up & down world, — he has his fortune to seek. If a good understanding, a sound heart & a manly spirit could ensure success, he could not fail of finding it. ...
I saw him at Boulogne with his father, & do not know when I have seen a young man who left upon so favourable an impression, — he looked his fortune in the face with such calmness & resolution, — with such a right English spirit. At that time he was treating for some mining adventure in Peru (mines & iron works had been his fathers ruin.) — This is a more hopeful plan. ...
and: RS to [James Stanger], same date?(no. 3121)
My dear Sir
May I request you to give me, or procure from from any of your friends a letter of introduction to the Bishop of Calcutta for Mr Homfray, — Miss Barkers cousin, — the eldest son of Sir Jere. H. ...
He goes out with mercantile views, & will need great interest to be allowed to remain there, while a requisition from a Merchant there for allowing him to settle is sent home. I suppose the place is found by his Uncle Mr Wilson, an adventurous merchant, who looks for great advantages from the opening of the trade. What however I request is a letter recommending him to such notice & good offices as he may be thought to deserve when he is known.
and to the Senhora herself (no. 3130):
If any of your Borrodale friends are employed in slate quarrying, tell them as a curious fact lately ascertained in Brazil, that the force of gunpowder in blasting is more than doubled by mixing it with sawdust ...
Mr. Wilson is evidently going to try the private trade, — & my fear is that your cousin will be sent back as soon as he arrives or be obliged to try his fortune out of the Company jurisdiction.
Why does not Miss F. go to Birmingham? would not that be the best place for her?
|1818: A charming interlude
|RS to John Rickman, 9 May 1818? (Collected Letters, Part 5, no. 3133):
I have heard to day of a custom remembered in Keswick & still practised in Borrodale. A married couple who have had no children, after a certain number of years, are compelld by their neighbours to give what is call A Fumblers Feast, & entertain them with sweet-butter, cawdle, & other such regalements as are produced at lying-in visits after the fashion of the country. This they do sorely against the grain, the company entertaining themselves at their expence in every sense of the phrase.
Such a feast was expected from (or inflicted upon) the couple who live opposite Miss Barkers house, last week.
Wordsworth Trust collections: WLMS A / Coleridge, Sara / 1 [letter to Dora Wordsworth, Rydal Mount]
May 23. 1818
... Miss Fletcher spent 3 weeks or a month at Gretalodge and dined with us every day she taught us music while she staid, we used those lovely duets in Don Juan every evening. she and I used to read latin together I daresay you would not have wished to have been of the party when she went away I agreed to write her a french letter every Saturday and she said she would correct them and send them back. I've written but have not yet received an answer except that Miss B. said that Miss Fletcher was very well pleased with them and would write sometime.
When Miss Fletcher returned to Borrowdale Miss Barker came here for a day or two; we drank tea on the lake and Edith and I were busily employed in picking orchises for our expected May pole; ...
Mr. Senhouse was here a week or two ago. he brought me a letter from Elizabeth also he brought from London a very curious toy called a Kaleidoscope.
Miss Barker is so delighted with the Kaleidoscope that she has ordered Glover to make her one ...
... your affectionate Scrawler
|1818: holiday lettings
|RS to William Peachy, 20 June 1818 (Collected Letters, Part 5, no. 3133):
Would Miss Barkers house [i.e. probably Greta Lodge, not the Folly] suit Mrs Neave? or that which Capt Gee had at Rydale? either of these may be had. Gee is at Bowness. Mr Wilberforce has written to me about a house for the middle of August, & Calvert is willing to let him have his, — I am daily expecting the answer to this proposal.
|1818: Prologue to the Scafell Pikes trip
|Decades after the event, the origins of Miss Barker's fondness for the fells round the head of Eskdale were revealed (with a postscript linking the trip to a minor drama a few years later).
|1818: Mary's painting
(see page 44)
|Paintings by Mary Barker remain frustratingly elusive. Two seem to have been exhibited at an exhibition in Whitehaven in 1826, the artist being identified only as "a Lady" who owned the site at Rosthwaite in Borowdale from which one of the views (no. 41 in the exhibition) was painted.
|1818: Miss Fletcher's bankruptcy, concluded
|Westmorland Gazette, 24 Oct 1818, p1:
"NOTICE TO CREDITORS
THE Assignees of Miss SARAH FLETCHER, late of Ambleside, Schoolmistress, do hereby give Notice, that a FINAL DIVIDEND of her Effects will be made on Saturday the 21st of November, 1818, at the Salutation Inn, Ambleside, at three o'clock. It is requested that all Persons standing indebted to the said Estate, will immediately pay the same, otherwise they will be proceeded against according to Law.
|Rosthwaite House: later history
(see page 44)
|I am gradually gathering information on the history of Miss Barker's Rosthwaite house after she left, placing its eventual transformation to the Scafell Hotel in the context of the growth of tourism and local accommodation during the 19th century. That information now has its own page.
|Greta Lodge: further details
(see page 44)
|A much later sale of the Greta Hall estate (including the pencil factory) gives quite a lot of information about Greta Lodge:
Either together or in Lots, by
Messrs. Thornborrow & Co. (IN CONJUNCTION WITH MR. J. MAYSON,)
At the Queen's Hotel, Keswick, on Monday, the 28th day of Oct., 1907 ...
LOT 2 ... The prettily-situate RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY,
Adjoining Greta Hall, numbered parts of 97 and 117 on the New Ordnance Map, containing 3r. 3p. or thereabouts, and standing on the same eminence.
The Residence, which is two storeyed with cemented front, has a south-west aspect being situated to the north-west of Lot 1. It is approached by a wide gravelled carriage drive leading to a broad gravel sweep, and Lawn in front of the residence. The internal accommodation comprises on the ground floor: Lofty Entrance Hall,; Dining Room 18ft. by 16ft., Breakfast Room; Box Room; well-appointed Kitchen fitted with range and cupboards; Scullery and Pantry; also, good double Cellar, well-lighted, containing Wash House with boiler, and Wine and Coal Cellars. On the first floor, which is approached by a wide and well-lighted Staircase, there is a spacious Drawing Room, 22ft. by 17ft. 6in., and Four Bedrooms of ample size, also w.c.
The house is enclosed on two sides by a high stone wall which also separates it from Lot 1.
There is also a Coach House and 2 stalled Stable and productive Kitchen Garden.
... This Lot also includes a portion of the finely wooded Bank leading to the river Greta.
This Lot is sold subject to a right of way for the owners or occupiers of Lot 1 (Greta Hall) over the roadway which gives access to the back part of the Hall premises, also to a right of downfall, and of entrance for the purpose of repairing the portion of the Greta Hall Stables, which abut on to the Greta Lodge premises.
|1820 census: Boulogne-sur-Mer
|Les Archives du Pas-de-Calais have scanned all surviving 19th century census documents for their area:
( http://www.archivespasdecalais.fr/Archives-en-ligne/Recensements-de-population )
This collection includes the 1820 census books for Boulogne-sur-Mer, which unfortunately identify dwellings only by a running number system within each book, and give no clues to geographical locations- and so far I have not found a name index. However, while updating this web page in January 2017, I decided to bite the bullet and try to find Miss Barker and her household. By early February, on screen 327, I had found the home of one familiar family:
|The Wordsworths' visit
(see page 46)
|Wordsworth Trust collections: WLMS A / Coleridge, Sara / 3 [to Elizabeth Crumpe, at J.G. Crumpe's Esqre, Solicitor, Liverpool]
November 12 1820.
The Senhouses do not go through Liverpool, so I must endeavour to get some other conveyance for this letter, which I have opened to tell you about our dear friends the Wordsworths, who have been in great danger in attempting to cross: they were obliged to put back, after having given up all for lost, & returned to Boulogne, to the great joy of Miss Barker, who, they say, sits in her arm chair, with her screen behind her back, & receives visitors almost all day long; but that her return to Cumberland appears quite out of the question, for My dear Miss Elizabeth, saving money in such a place as that is a mere chimera.
your very affectionate Sara Coleridge
|Page 48: "Sotheby's"
|This, at the end of the first full paragraph on the page, should of course read "Southey's", and stands as an Awful Warning to all those who rely too much on their spell-checkers.
|Page 48 footnote
|In the various editions of John Murray's "Hand-book for Travellers in France" we are given a clear impression of the British influence on Boulogne-sur-Mer. Here, for example, is the 1843 edition:
"The number of inhabitants is 29,145, among whom are at least 5,000 permanent English residents; indeed Boulogne, having the advantage of being within 12 hours of London, has become, since the peace, one of the chief British colonies abroad; and, by a singular reciprocity, on the very spot where Napoleo proposed the invasion of our shores, his intended victims have quietly taken possession and settled themselves down. The town is enriched by English money; warmed, lighted, and smoked by English coal; English signs and advertisements decorate every other shop-door, inn, tavern and lodging-house; and almost every third person you meet is either a countryman or speaking our language ..."
Note that this description was based on the situation before the great expansion of Britain's railway network, which instantly reduced the London travel time by four hours, and, judging from the 1867 edition, began a decline in the number of long-term British residents (given then as just 3,000 out of a total population of 40,251).
|The Satanic School
(see page 50)
|Prof. Speck's biography of RS considers (p180) the origin of the phrase "Satanic school", pointing out that RS had used it before the preface to "A Vision of Judgement", in an article for the Quarterly Review in 1818. On that earlier occasion, however, he had been referring to the political philosophy of Napoleon and his ilk. That certainly muddies the waters, but it still does not rule out the possibility that Mary coined the phrase as a direct response to Byron's 1814 crack about poets and ponds.
|Nostalgia from Dorothy Wordsworth, 1820
|In her "Journal of a Tour on the Continent, 1820," Dorothy notes:
Monday, August 27th, — Lugano
... many a beautiful flower was plucked among the mossy stones. One, in particular, there was (since found wherever we have been in Italy). I helped Miss Barker to plant that same flower in her garden brought from Mr. Clarke's hot-house.
|Dodgy information for route-finding
|Cary's New Itinerary (1821 edition) p420
Keswick, on r. Greta Hall, Wm. Calvert, esq.; and Hill, Robt. Southey, Esq. Poet Laureat: on l. Pigmy Hall, Sir F. Moreshead, Bt; Derwent Hill, Wm. Slack, esq.; Barrow, Roger Pocklington, Esq.; Rosthwaite Beakstones, Miss Barker; and at Scathwaite the celebrated Black Lead Mine.
(1828 edition) p420
Keswick, on r. Greta Bank, Wm. Calvert, esq.; and Greta Hall, Robert Southey, Esq., Poet Laureat: on l. Derwent Lodge, Sir F. Moreshead, Bt.; Barrow House, Roger Pocklington, Esq.; Rosthwaite House, Miss Barker; and at Scathwaite the celebrated Black Lead Mine, Vicar's Island, on Keswick Lake, General Peachy.
|Lady Homfray's death
(see page 51)
|The Cambrian, 27 Mar 1830
"DIED. On the 17th inst. at Boulogne, in France, aged 61, Lady Homfray, wife of Sir Jeremiah Homfray, late of Landaff House, in this county, a lady much esteemed and regretted."
(see page 51)
|I have not been able to find a record of a marriage between Mary Barker and John Slade or Slade Smith in the Boulogne area, but there was one at about the right time in a surprising yet logical place:
Diocese of Canterbury, Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, 19 October 1830-
marriage of John Slade, bachelor of this parish, and Mary Barker, spinster of this parish, by banns; witnesses William Smith and John Baker [not Barker].
So, a proper Church of England marriage, before witnesses who may well have been dragged in off the street. If John Slade is who I think he is, then the choice of banns rather than licence may have been almost a necessity. The explanation for that theory gets its own page: john_slade.htm.
|Post-nuptial visit to Cumberland
(see page 51)
|Prof. Speck has found (pp213-4 of his biography) that a letter from RS to Miss Fletcher, 31 Jan 1831 (among an assortment of RS correspondence in the Rare Books & Special Collections department at Rochester University, USA, ref. A.S 727) refers to the new Mrs Slade Smith's visit to her old friends in England- which Robert had missed because he was away, but Speck notes he "does not appear to have been distressed".
|Villa de la Motte
(see page 52)
Postcard of the Chateau de la Motte, Hardinghen, early 20th century. Is this the chateau which Mary Wordsworth called the "Villa de la Mottte"? [As of September 2018, one wing is an airbnb !]
The Chateau de la Motte seems at first glance to be the place marked on the 18th-century Cassini mapping of France as "la Folie", but the more detailed 19th-century (c1835) Carte de l'état-major indicates that is another place slightly to the east. On the modern mapping of "Parcelles cadastrales" the Chateau is number 414.
|Sir Jere Homfray's death
(see page 52)
|The Cambrian, 19 Jan 1833 [yes, January, not June]:
"DIED. On the 9th inst. at Boulogne-sur-Mer, aged 74, Sir Jeremiah Homfray, Knight, of Llandaff House, in the county of Glamorgan."
|1832: still not forgotten
(see page 52)
|Wordsworth Trust collections: WLL / Wordsworth, Dora / 1 / 44 [to Edward Quillinan (1791-1851), at The Abbey House, Malvern, readdressed via George Benson Esqre., Lutwyche, near Wenlock, Shropshire]
Octor 3d 
Kindest love from all yours faithfully & affecty
Aunts are writing to the quondam Miss Barker, they think her a likely person to know something of Lord Lyttleton & will beg for any information she may be able to give - again farewell and pardon me for occupying so much of your time I feel my letter is most unreasonably lengthy
|Page 53- worrying news
|Robert Maddocks has discovered another interesting, and frankly disturbing, entry in Lord Hatherton's journal:
"Monday 13th April, 1835
I received a letter from a solicitor in the City written on behalf of S----- and Ch----- S------, bankers of Boulogne, cautioning me not to pay the annuity left by Sir Edward Littleton to Miss Barker as she has assigned it to them - as well as my voluntary annuity to her."
Does that mean that she has, in the first few years of her marriage, been losing money even faster?
|In the Fourth Series of John Wood Warter's edition of "Southey's Common-place Book" (1851), under the heading Shape of Utensils is the entry:
Miss Barker's sugar-stork"
The connection between the two objects appears merely to be "things shaped like creatures" for Urganda's ship (in Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo's fourth book of "Amadis de Gaula") looks like a gigantic serpent.
Also in this volume of the "Common-place Book," among material gathered for Southey's Espriella hoax, is a traditional Welsh wedding invitation supplied to him by Miss Barker, having been sent to her uncle near Llandaff (i.e. presumably Sir Jeremiah Homfray) by the official Inviter, Henry Morgan.
|Page 53- at home in Hardinghen
|The Slade household at Hardinghen (no precise address, just the sole household- number 284- occupying house 249, in the area known as L'Eglise) appears in the 1851 census of France:
|Page 53- the end
|Feb 2007: Robert Maddocks' study of Lord Hatherton's journal has now reached 1853, and the following useful but sad entry:
"22nd October, 1853
I received today intelligence of Mrs Slade's death- formerly Miss Barker and more than half mistress of this house. She died at the Chateau de la Motte in the Dept. of Calais and is to be buried at Boulogne."
So despite all the financial worries, the Slades maintained their stately home lifestyle to the end- though this entry does raise a puzzle about the "Pavillion du Paon" referred to on page 52. "This house" in the above extract is of course the Littleton seat of Teddesley, which as discussed above could probably have been Mary's if she had been selfish enough.
The Actes for Hardinghen are now online. The entry for Mary's death (following French convention, as Marie Barker, wife of John Slade), registered on 19 October 1853, gives her birthplace as Congreve, her age as about 70 and the time of death as 9am the previous day.
The official burial entry is:
"BURIALS in the Town of Boulogne sur Mer in France in the Year 1853."
p72: "Marie Barker Slade; Hardinghen Pas de Calais; Octr. 22nd, years 72; K [or R] Groves, Min'r." [NB: the k in "Barker" looks more like an r, which has confused indexers!]
|1856- the Slade household
|The Slade household at Hardinghen (no precise address, just the sole household- number 270- occupying house 234, in the area known as L'Eglise) appears in the 1856 census of France, on page 19 of the Hardinghen listing:
|Miss Barker's album
(see page 56)
|The Bodleian Library reference for this is (or was):
MS. Eng. poet. d. 36