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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2230. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 12 March 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. March 12. 1813.

My dear Wynn,

Thank you for remembering me at Jefferys. [1]  I have the Castilian version of Desclot, [2]  – & a most curious & interesting book it is. The title of the other book I cannot understand: it looks like Espana Transpelana [3]  – but what that can be I do not know & am unable to guess. Buy it for me however at a venture if it be any thing except a mere compendium of the general history of Spain. I wish you If a copy of Gregory of Tours [4]  which is within compass of my purse should fall in your way, pray purchase it for me. I want it for the purpose of gleaning costume for Roderick. [5] 

Do not be too sure of your victory in the H. of Commons. [6]  It is not unlikely that when the securities come to be discussed you will find yourselves in a minority there, as well as in the country at large. The mischief however is done. It is like certain bodily complaints trifling in itself {themselves}, – but of infinite import as symptomatic of approaching death. The more I see, the more I read, & the more I reflect, the more reason there appears to me to fear that our turn of Revolution is xxxx xxxx hastening on. In the minds of the busy part of the public it is already effected. The save-all reformers have made them suspicious; – the opposition has made them discontented, – the anarchists are making them furious. Methodism is undermining the church, & your party in league with all varieties of opinionists from the Atheists of Edinburgh, to Ephraim Broadbrim, [7]  have battered it till you have succeeded in making a breach. I give you all credit for good intentions, – but I know the dissenters & the philosophists better than you do, & know that the principle which they have in common is a hatred of the Church of the England, & a wish to overthrow her. This they will accomplish, – & you will regret it as much {as} I shall do, – not more because {tho} you believe in some of its articles xxx articles which I disclaim, – & certainly not the less for having yourself contributed to its destruction.

The end of all this will be the loss of liberty, – for that is the penalty which in the immutable order of things is appointed for the abuse of it. What we may have to go thro before we sit xx down quietly in our chains God only knows.

————

I shall not be in London before the first or second week in May.

Have you heard of the strange circumstances about Coleridge – A man – xxxx xxx hanging himself in the Park with one of his shirts on marked at full length! – Guess C’s astonishment at reading this in a newspaper at a Coffee house. [8]  The thing is equally ridiculous & provoking. It will alarm many persons who know him, – & I dare say many will always believe that the man was C. himself, but that he was cut down in time, – & that his friends said it was somebody else in order to conceal the truth. As yet however I have laughed about it xxx too much to be vexed. I have just got Gen Mackinnons Journal; – never was any xx thing more faithful than his account of the country & the people. [9]  We have I fear too few such men in the British Army. I knew a sister [10]  of his well some years ago, & should rejoice to meet with her again. She was one of the cleverest women I ever knew. When they lived in France Buonaparte was a frequent visitor at their mothers house. –

Mackinnon would have made a great man. His remarks upon want of subordination & proper regulations in an army are well worthy of Lord Wellingtons consideration. [11]  It was by thinking thus, & forming his army upon good moral xx {as} well as military principles, that Gustavus [12]  became the Greatest Captain of modern times: so he may certainly be xxx called, because he atchieved the greatest things with means which were apparently the most inadequate.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [illegible]
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 24–26 [in part]. BACK

[1] Edward Jeffrey (c. 1763–1832), a London bookseller, with a long-established shop in Pall Mall. BACK

[2] Bernat Desclot (13th century), Historia de Cataluña (1616), no. 3287 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Unidentified. Southey did not buy this work. BACK

[4] St Gregory of Tours (c. 538–594), historian and bishop. An edition of his Historiae Francorum (1561) was no. 1240 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[6] Southey was deeply worried as the Catholic Relief Bill, which gave the government a veto over the appointment of Catholic bishops (the main ‘security’ some Catholics were willing to concede), in return for full Catholic rights, had passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons and was being considered in committee. BACK

[7] A popular name for a Quaker, from John Cartwright Cross (1770-c. 1809), The Village Doctor (1796). BACK

[8] The source of this newspaper report is unidentified. BACK

[9] Major-General Henry Mackinnon (1773–1812; DNB) had been killed storming the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo on 19 January 1812. His Journal of the Campaign in Portugal and Spain, containing Remarks on the Inhabitants, Customs, Trade and Cultivation of those Countries, from the Year 1809–1812 had appeared in 1812. BACK

[10] Mackinnon’s sister, Frances (dates unknown), was the wife of the painter John Keenan (fl. 1780–1819). Southey had met the Keenans in Exeter in 1799. The Mackinnon family had spent some time in the 1780s in the Dauphiné. Whilst there, one of the four Mackinnon sisters was courted by Napoleon Bonaparte. BACK

[11] Mackinnon, Journal of the Campaign in Portugal and Spain, containing Remarks on the Inhabitants, Customs, Trade and Cultivation of those Countries, from the Year 1809–1812 (London, 1812), pp. 96–98. BACK

[12] Gustavus Adolphus (1594–1632; King of Sweden 1611–1632), renowned for his military prowess. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013