2295. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. late August 1813]

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

2295. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. late August 1813]⁠* 

My dear Wynn

Bleda, [1]  D Juan de Persia, [2]  Clavijo, [3]  Mendoza, [4]  Alvares [5]  & Gomara [6]  I have. I have also the first part of Pedro de Cieza 12mo, Anvers 1554. [7]  Nic. Antonio [8]  says he wrote four parts but that only one was published. Nic. Antonio however is not infallible & if there is a second part I shall not hesitate at giving two guineas for it, – which is going to a Collectors price. My first part contains 121 Chapters the last of which is ‘De Los Monestarios que se han fundado en al Peru desde el tiempo que se descubrio hasta este año de mil 7 quinientos y cinquenta años.’ [9]  – by this you can easily ascertain if the edition of 1557 has really a second part; – I may as well add that the first contains 285 double pages.

I have a jornada de Africa by Juan Baptista de Morales, Seville 1622 [10]  & another by Hieronimo de Mendonca in Portugueze. [11]  – If it be there be a different one at the sale it must be worth more to me than to any other person.

Marmol I dare not think of. – And indeed there is a new edition which I would as willingly have. [12] 

Argensola I would give a guinea for, – which is just three times what it would have cost if it had ever fallen in my way at Lisbon. [13] 

I know nothing about Valles [14]  or Puente [15]  – considering them as two pigs in a poke, the first would be worth a 7/6 venture & the latter xxxx 10/6.

The Hernandia does not tempt me. [16]  I have too much to do with matters of fact to have any leisure for indulging my own fancies, far still less for following in idle curiosity those of others.

What a subject for a painter would the discovery of Charles’s body be! [17]  The manner in which the past & the present & the future are all brought <before> me in that scene gives it an aweful & visionary character which makes it more truly x impressive than any historical fact xxx within my recollection. – If the Prophet Daniel were at hand I would go to him to know what the Princes dreams were that night. [18] 

I agree with you entirely as to the Signs of the Times. Between the breaking up of one system, & the consolidation of another centuries of turbulence & xxx misery have always intervened: & that we are one of these political & moral cycles is nearly xx full, seems to be but too certain. Monarchy is rotten & republicanism has been cankered in the bud. Even in America where the people were prepared for it, & indeed driven impelled to it by all their history, habits, feelings, principles, feelings & institutions, Washington [19]  himself felt, after the war was over & the point gained, – that the experiment was premature. That union no doubt will fall asunder, but whenever it does New England has better prospects than Old England.

The explosion in Sicily I see has taken place, a fine diversion in favour of Suchet! [20] 

I have no fears about Germany, now that Germany is fairly roused. [21]  The contest is for life or for death, – & my philosophy is to be found in the vulgar phrase God’s above the Devil! –


* MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D. AL; 3p.
Dating note: News of the disturbances in Sicily mentioned in this letter began to appear in British newspapers from 21 August 1813 onwards. This letter therefore probably dates from this period. BACK

[1] Jayme Bleda (1550–1622), Coronica de Los Moros de Espana (1618); no. 3346 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] Juan de Persia (1560–1604), Relaciones, donde se Tratan las Cosas Notables de Persia, in Guerras de Persianos, Turcos y Tartaros (1604); no. 3699 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo (d. 1412), Embajada a Tamorlan (1582). BACK

[4] Either: Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503–1575), Guerra de Granada hecha por el Rey de Espana Don Felipe II (1610), an edition of 1674 was no. 3537 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; or, Pedro de Salazar y Mendoza, Monarquia de Espana (1770), no. 3635 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Francisco Alvares (c. 1465-c. 1540), Historiale Description de l’Ethiope (1558); no. 37 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] Probably The Conquest of the Weast Indies (1576), an English translation of Francisco Lopez de Gomara (c. 1511–1566?), Hispania Victrix (1552). BACK

[7] Pedro Cieza de Leon (c. 1520–1554), Cronicas del Peru (1553). Southey’s edition of 1554 was no. 3196 in the sale catalogue of his library. The remaining three parts were gradually published 1871–1979. BACK

[8] The Spanish bibliographer Nicolás Antonio (1617–1684). Southey used the revised edition of his Bibliotheca Hispana Vetus et Nova, published in 1783–1788, no. 3309 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[9] Translates as: ‘Of the monasteries which were founded in Peru from the time of its discovery until the current year 1750’. BACK

[10] Juan Bautista de Morales (1597–1664), Jornado de Africa del Rey D. Sebastian de Portugal (1622); no. 3440 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Jeronimo de Mendonca (c. 1558–c.1607), Jornada de Africa (1607). BACK

[12] Luis del Marmol Carujal (1520–1600), Historia del Rebellion y Castigo de los Moriscos del Reyno del Granada (1600); Southey eventually acquired an edition of 1797, no. 3522 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[13] An unidentified edition of either Bartolomè Leonardo de Argensola (1561–1631), Spanish priest, poet and historian or his brother Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola (1559–1613). BACK

[14] Possibly a work by the famous Spanish doctor, Francisco Valles (1524–1592), or the Spanish historian Pedro de Valles (fl. 1540s). BACK

[15] Possibly a work by the Spanish Jesuit, Luis de la Puente (1554–1624). BACK

[16] Francisco Ruiz de Leon (fl. 1750s), Hernandia, Triumphos de la Fe, y Gloria de las Armas Espanoles, Poema Heroyco (1755); Southey obtained a copy, no. 3722 in the sale catalogue of his library. The poem was a fictional re-telling of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519–1521. BACK

[17] Probably the renovations taking place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. On 1 April 1813, the Prince Regent had attended the opening of the coffin of Charles I (1600–1649; reigned 1625–1649; DNB). It was reported that ‘the left eye [of the corpse], in the first moment of exposure, was open and full, though it vanished almost immediately’, see Sir Henry Halford (1766–1844; DNB), An Account of What Appeared on Opening the Coffin of King Charles the First, in the Vault of King Henry the Eighth in St George’s Chapel at Windsor (1813), p. 8. BACK

[18] Daniel 2: Daniel interprets the dream of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (c. 634–562 BC). BACK

[19] George Washington (1732–1799), general and first President of the United States of America, 1789–1797. BACK

[20] There were food riots in Palermo on 18–19 July 1813 and British troops were diverted from their intended destination of Spain to Sicily, in order to help maintain order. The Sicilian ministry resigned at the end of July 1813 and British control of the island became ever more apparent. Southey points out that these events could only help Louis Gabriel Suchet, Duc d’Albufera (1770–1826), French marshal and commander in eastern Spain. BACK

[21] The War of the Sixth Coalition had begun in northern Germany once Prussia declared war on France in February 1813. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013