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New Letters from Charles Brown to Joseph Severn, Edited by Grant Scott and Sue Brown
Letter 33

TO JOSEPH SEVERN1

13 November 1830

Florence. 13 Novr 1830.

My dear Severn,

We all want to know how the lady and the young gentleman2 are going on. Perhaps I was bound to write earlier, — time has slipped away; of course we arrived safe and sound. The Wilsons3 are here, and have engaged for an apartment, while I do my best in putting them up to Florentine management. I was surprised, on my return, to hear that the hotels were full of English; it appears they are for the most part of the middling classes, — "pochi signoroni,"4 — and we have an army of native servants out of place, with their families, I am told, in great distress; — besides which, there are a great many furnished lodgings to be let. Carlino has begun music, which will put 60 crowns a year into the Florentines’ pockets, — see what a charitable man am I! As the vettura dragged me along the road, I discovered why Monsr Robert’s5 picture is at fault: there were a man and a girl standing on a bank, backed by a clear sky; though very near them, I could not distinguish their features, scarcely their forms, owing to their being cut to pieces by myriads of rays of light; but, as we moved on, they became backed by a house, when, in a moment, they were as distinct as in Robert’s picture, which proved to me he had (to speak Irish-wise) committed an impossibility. This must have been the reason of our feeling that his picture was out of nature; but since neither Uwins nor you explained it to me, I do the needful by you. While I was away Kirkup had literally done nothing to his picture; never was a fellow like him for sticking fast in a work. I found Trelawny nursing his little girl, his attendant having left him. She is the most respectable servant I have met with in Italy; and, were you not provided, I would recommend her to you, — she is a good sempstress, and an excellent nurse. Now mind you let me know how Mrs Severn is, and tell us if Claudia has picked up a bit. Carlino sends his love to all parties. I did not much approve of your boasted fish sauce; and, as I have made the best essence of anchovies I ever tasted, here is the receipt. Put 24 anchovies, as they come from the barrel with their proportion of liquor, in a small pan, and pour two tumblers of water on them; scale, bone, behead, betail, and wash them in that water, leaving all the bones, heads &c therein, which should be boiled (covered) for <three> two hours and then strained; then put on the strained liquor again to boil with the anchovies cut into very little bits; boil (covered) for two hours and strain again, and pound in a mortar the parts of the fish that remain in the sieve till perfectly smooth, — then mix all together. If you wish the sauce to be of a darker red, boil a little pounded cochineal with it. A table spoonfull of brandy may be added to keep it. Give this receipt and my love to Mrs Severn. Remembrances to the Leaches, Gibson, Uwins, and all I like in Rome. N. B. In Florence a glass the size of Fabri’s Sistine chapel engravings costs only 10 pauls, — so I think I shall treat myself to the whole set.

Your’s most truly,
           Chas Brown.

Notes

1 Address: Al Pittore Inglese / Il Sig. Guiseppe Severn, / No 152 Via Rasella, / Roma. Postmarks: FIRENZE; 15 NOVEMBRE. [Return to the letter]

2 Walter Severn placed a cross here and wrote the following above the salutation, which was later crossed out, probably by Sharp: "Refers to me / I was born 12 Oct. 30 / Walter Severn." Below this Sharp wrote, "745." [Return to the letter]

3 Charles Wilson (1809-1882), art administrator and educationist. He married on 3 October 1838 (Oxford DNB). [Return to the letter]

4 "Mini milords." [Return to the letter]

5 Louis-Leopold Robert (1794-1835), French painter of Italian genre scenes. [Return to the letter]

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