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

2314. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 October 1813 ⁠* 

Streatham. Oct 16. 1813

My dear Wynn

I do not wonder that you recognized my brother Edward by the strong family resemblance which he bears to me. [1]  In chewing the cud of bitter thoughts after the perusal of your letter, my first inclination was to write to him, & endeavour to discover from the tenor of his answer, what the state of his feelings might be, & whether he himself saw any way in which his fate might be ameliorated, – for the army & navy are out of the question, – & so would any situation be which required either character or confidence. Harry & I talking over the matter, agreed that it might yet be possible to qualify him for a country practitioner in medicine, – but then it would be xxxxx highly imprudent to incur an expence which we are so ill able to bear, unless there were strong reason to believe that it would answer the end. Time & suffering are the only xxx xxxxx xxxxxx medicines for a case like his, & they are slow in their operation. – He has talents in abundance, but there is a sort of moral insanity about him: he seems to have been born without the sense of shame or of truth. I do not believe that there is any wickedness in his nature; – he is rather without principles than actuated by bad ones, exactly xxxx such a character as the old word picaroon  [2]  expresses. Such he was from the beginning, & therefore there is but too much reason to fear that such he will be to the end. The only ground of hope is that he may have sense enough to perceive xxxxxx how grossly he has erred in seeking for happiness by such courses.

At all events the first thing to be done is to endeavour to learn what sort of character he bears among the poor creatures with whom he has associated himself, – Whether they xxxxxxxx xxxx xx xxxxx whether he has a fair reputation with them for honesty, – what vices he is addicted to, if any (for I do not know that he is debauched) & whether he in any way appears at any time opprest in spirits, – for this would be the best symptom. This you could probably learn by causing secret enquiry to be made, & then if the report should be in any point favourable, I will write to him, – & do every thing which I possibly can do. – I need not say how much I feel your kindness on this occasion: – but this is a feeling to which I have long been accustomed. What I might have been without your help xx God alone knows, & I hardly dare ask myself.

God bless you my dear Wynn!

R Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Welsh-Pool
Stamped: To PAY/ ONLY/ D/ 2
Postmark: OC 16/ 1813
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 82–83. BACK

[1] Wynn had recognised Edward Southey among a company of strolling players at Welshpool in Wales. BACK

[2] ‘A pirate’. BACK

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August 2013