Amelia Opie to Henry Perronet Briggs: 27 November 1841


Norwich 11th Mo 27th 1841


My dear Henry,

Thou art usually so exemplary a correspondent, & so prompt in answering letters even the letters of those like myself who do not always deserve so speedy a reply, that thy present silence alarms me – & I fear thou art ill

It is full a fortnight since I wrote to thee to Inverary[1] – but no letter reaches me from thence!

I have been intending to write again, & should have done so had I not been particularly impelled to do so this Evening in order to talk to thee of poor dear Chantrey’s[2] sudden removal which it was a shock indeed to me to be informed of

This day week I went to dine at the Palace — where to my pleasant surprize who should come in but Sir F & Lady Chantrey?[3] He had to lead me down to dinner, & I sat between him, & Sir John Boileau [4] I thought he looked well, tho’ he said he was not so — but I could not but think him on examination too black red, to full faced & that his countenance was anxious — He rarely smiled & was more ready to listen than talk

Lady Chantrey was full of Holkham[5] & its mirth & its royal & noble guests & anxious to return thither, but he said he earnestly wished to get home — & I saw that go they would — On the 2nd day, (Monday) following – I; though became very ill myself with cold & cough, put myself in a chair well wrapt up, & was carried to the Royal Hôtel[6] to call on Lady Ch– He was out at the

at the Cathedral[7] & I could not stay until he returned but she assured me, if they did not go away the next day, they would come to see after me & my ailments the next morning & I returned home, to bed

That Evening at 8, poor Chantrey called to enquire after my health Of course I could not see him but in my heart I said to myself “I will keep my promise if I live till spring – I will visit them in London!!!” Par conséquent[8] thou wilt see that this sudden death & the bright hopeful wife converted in one moment into a sorrowful widow has, owing to the recent intercourse with her & him, affected me much —

and the more as I have been rarely out of my bed since I parted with Lady Ch — and when pulled down in strength, one is the more easily depressed in spirit

I do hope that, if not already on the road, a letter from thee to me will soon be on its way hither

We can’t spare a great sculptor & a great painter too – & I do flatter myself that illness is not the cause of thy silence, though it may be —

I can no more —

I write in bed & in a very uneasy position –

My cousin Tom’s[b] place pleases him much & I believe it is already 300£ pr an!

This is a comfort —

Ever thy truly affecte couisn

Amelia Opie

Source: Dr. Shelley King and Dr. John B. Pierce

Address: H P Briggs

Postmark: none

[1] One of the few planned towns in Western Scotland, Inveraray was built by the third Duke of Argyll who wanted a new town to go with his new castle and its neoclassical decorations. Hedley Swain. “Inveraray.” Glasgow, the Antonine Wall and Argyll. Eds. Hedley Swain and Patrick Ottaway. London: The Royal Archaeological Institutue, 2008. 58-59. Print. A 1798 guide to the region declares that any traveler “must be callous indeed” if he “can survey without admiration, the beautiful and diversified picture of rural peace that every where solicits his notice, in transversing the plain in which the castle is situated.” See page 87 of Thomas Richardson. Guide to Loch Lomond, Loch Long, Loch Fine, and Inveraray. Glasgow: R. Chapman, 1798. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Web. 16 July 2013.

[2] Born 1781 in Derbyshire, the son of Francis Chantrey and Sarah Leggatt, Francis Leggatt Chantrey served as a grocer’s assistant before becoming the apprentice of a decorative carver. He achieved fame as a sculptor in Sheffield for his monument of Revd James Wilkinson before attending the Royal Academy where he exhibited a bust of Satan. Eventually becoming the portrait sculptor of choice for wealthy, established patrons, he commanded a large workshop of assistants. Chantrey was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Artists, honorary graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and made a night by William the IV in 1835. He died the 25 November 1841 at his home in Lower Belgrave Place, London. Timothy Stevens. “Chantrey, Sir Francis Leggatt (1781-1841).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Web. 15 July 2013.

[3] Mary Anne Chantrey née Wale (1787-1875) married her cousin Francis Leggatt Chantery after he frequently stayed at her parents’ house while establishing his London reputation. Her dowry was said to be about £10,000, and permitted the young couple to establish a residence in Pimlico. When he died in 1841, she inherited the residue of her husband’s estate (about £100,500) and gave most of his plasters to Oxford University. Timothy Stevens. “Chantrey, Sir Francis Leggatt (1781-1841).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Web. 15 July 2013.

[4]Sir John Peter Boileau, 1st Baronet (2 September 1794 – 9 March 1869) was a British baronet and archaeologist. Allan Bell. “Boileau, Sir John Peter.”Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004.

[5] Located in North Norfolk, Holkham is a Palladian palace constructed on a grand scale of baked yellow-gray brick that served as the seat of the Coke Family, Earls of Leicester. It is known especially for its Marble Hall, in which 18 fluted ionic columns support an elaborate ceiling, and for the quality of its art, as Holkham’s walls display works by Claude, Poussin, Rubens, and Van Dyck. In 1841, the Holkham was owned by Thomas Coke (né Roberts), 1st Earl of Leicester, sometimes MP for Norfolk, and agricultural improver. See Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes. “Holkham Hall.” Great Houses of England and Wales. New York: Rizzoli, 1994. 331-41. Print.

[6] A “rambling old coaching inn” on Gentleman’s Walk which overlooked Norwich marketplace, the Royal Hotel was replaced by an inn of the same name in the mid-1800s. See Kirsty Way. “The Royal Hotel.” Norwich HEART: Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust. Web. 16 July 2013.

[7] The Cathedral of Norwich is “one of the largest and most complete Romanesque great churches” in England. The original building took shape between 1096 and 1145, with substantial rebuilding occurring roughly between 1272 and 1535. The Cathedral is notable in that it retains fragment of the original bishop’s throne or cathedra which dates back to Norman times. Tim Tattonn-Brown. “Norwich, Norfolk.” The English Cathedral. London: New Holland Publishers, 2002. 34-37. Print.

[8] Thus