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

2281. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 July 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. July 16. 1813

My dear Wynn

I have not seen the Bridal of Triermain; [1]  but many circumstances lead me to believe that it is Scotts, – who is trying how far he can succeed anonymously. Of this I have very little doubt, tho the indications which might perhaps appear as slight as the circumstances which give a Bow Street Officer his first scent.

Of the Rejected Addresses [2]  I liked Lord Byron best; [3]  – there are others equally good, – but xxx xxx {here} the mode of thought as well as the manner happily caught. Scott is admirably imitated. [4]  That of Kehama is not so good, because it is not so close. [5]  Those of Wordsworth  [6]  & Coleridge  [7]  appear to me awe utterly despicable, quite xxxx worthy of the Mocking Birds original strains. Cobbett  [8]  & the Morning Post [9]  are both excellent. – Horace in London [10]  was printed some years ago in the Monthly Mirror, – I remarked it at the time, & wondered that it did not attract more notice.

It will be vexatious if I should miss you in my transit. Yet I very much fear that this will be the case, – for my return will most likely be at the end of September.

I breakfasted with Reginald Heber at his brothers when last in town, but of course there was little opportunity of seeing any thing more than that his appearance was prepossessing. If Heber should be at Hodnett when I am on my way home, I am bound to halt there.

This seems to have been a clumsy business at Tarragona. [11]  Surely they ought to have known where Suchet [12] . was, & what force could be brought against them from Catalonia, before they began the siege. The field however will soon be our own, & it has always been so difficult to victual the forts that there is not probably one of them which can hold out against a long blockade. If Barcelona is starved out, I think that even Buonaparte obstinate as he is, will despair of recovering his hold upon Spain. Would that the political affairs of that country wore as fair an aspect as their military concerns! – but I fear xxxx all the good which had the Cortes [13]  had done xxx has been sowing dragons teeth. It was a lamentable proof of presumption to make a new constitution, when a thorough repair with a few alterations of the old one would have sufficed. The danger is that the Cortes by their folly will afford too plausible a pretext & too tempting an opportunity for undoing the good which they have done.

I have had some correspondence with Wilberforce lately. [14]  He wrote to me about the East India-Missionary question, – & this is likely to lead to an acquaintance.

I hope I shall meet with Lord Holland at H. House, – xxxx he must have Spanish documents in his possession which I want for my great work. [15]  The whole business will be xxxxx settled when I get to London. My second sight is as promising as possible {could be desired} – & it is scarcely possible that I could be better prepared for any undertaking. My advice to the booksellers is that they make it a splendid work, with views & portraits as head & tail pieces to every chapter. In this way large paper & proofs secure a certain kind of sale for the first edition, – & a notoriety which would give wings to the second.

God bless you

RS.

Roderick [16]  which has long been aground is just afloat again.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Duke Street/ Westminster
Postmark: CARLISLE/ 17 JY 17/ 1813
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 325-327. BACK

[1] Scott’s The Bridal of Triermain (1813). BACK

[2] In 1812 a competition was held to select a poem to be read at the opening night of the rebuilt Drury Lane Theatre. One hundred and twelve entries were submitted, but none of these were felt to be acceptable, so instead an ode was commissioned from Byron. In response, the humourists Horace (1779–1849; DNB) and James Smith (1775–1839; DNB) published an anonymous collection of parodies that purported to be a selection of the rejected poems. Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (1812) was a hit, going into 17 editions by 1819. BACK

[3] ‘Cui Bono’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 14–20. BACK

[4] ‘A Tale of Drury Lane’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 47–56; which was ‘To be spoken by Mr. Kemble in a suit of the Black Prince’s armour, borrowed from the Tower’. BACK

[5] ‘The Rebuilding’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 32–41; ‘Spoken by a Glendoveer’, see The Curse of Kehama (1810). BACK

[6] ‘The Baby’s Debut’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 5–10; purportedly ‘Spoken in the character of Nancy Lake, a girl eight years of age, who is drawn upon the stage in a child’s chase, by Samuel Hughes, her uncle’s porter’. BACK

[7] ‘Playhouse Musings’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 76–80; it began ‘My pensive public, wherefore look you sad?/ I had a grandmother, she kept a donkey/ To carry to the mart here crockery ware,/ And when that donkey look’d me in the face,/ His face was sad! and you are sad, my Public!’ (p. 76), and concluded ‘When I behold a spider/ Prey on a fly, or a magpie on a worm,/ Or view a Butcher with horn-handled knife,/ Slaughter a tender lamb as dead as mutton,/ Indeed, indeed, I’m very, very sick’ (p. 80). BACK

[8] ‘Hampshire Farmer’s Address’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 21–27. BACK

[9] ‘Theatrical Alarm Bell’, Rejected Addresses, or, The New Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1812), pp. 95–100. BACK

[10] The Smith brothers’ Horace in London (1813), a collection of metrical imitations of Horace, Odes 1 and 2. The poems, the majority of which were written by James Smith, had previously appeared piecemeal in the Monthly Mirror in 1807–1810. BACK

[11] In June 1813 Lieutenant General John Murray, 8th Baronet (1768?-1827; DNB), despite having superior numbers, failed to capture the Spanish port of Tarragona. BACK

[12] Louis Gabriel Suchet, Duc d’Albuferra (1770–1826), French Marshal BACK

[13] The Cortes sitting in Cadiz had drawn up the liberal Constitution of 1812. BACK

[14] See Southey to William Wilberforce, 19 June 1813 (Letter 2270) and 14 July 1813 (Letter 2280). BACK

[15] The History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

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

Published @ RC

August 2013