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

2352. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 18 December 1813 ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

I send the inclosed open for your perusal. [1]  It ought to have been written sooner, – but you will easily understand why it has been delayed. This evening I received a letter from Edward to know the cause of my silence. It has been to London & says that he leaves Welchpool in the Xmas week & knows not where the company may go next. If this should not find him there, nor follow him, it will be returned to you I suppose from the dead-letter office, & I shall hear from him with his new direction.

Whether he be married or not all objection on that score to the Spanish experiment [2]  is done away. I confess I have little hope from the experiment, but that the presentiment of its failure ought not to prevent us from trying it.

God bless you. I must go to work upon a heartless occupation – that of emasculating my Ode, – which I had written as R. S. & not P. L. [3]  Rickman & Wordsworth doubt the (official) fitness of its appeal to France against Buonaparte. I have sent it to Croker & expect so fully that their opinion will be confirmed by him that I am going to serve this unhappy poem as Origen & the Cur a quondam Curate of Lorton, here in Cumberland, served themselves. [4] 

Yrs affectionately

RS.

Keswick. Dec 18. 1813.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Llangedwin/ Oswestry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A letter to Edward Southey. It has not survived. BACK

[2] Edward Southey had a female companion (a Miss Lack) who it was believed he had married, but on making further enquiries into her background and visiting her uncle, Southey discovered that no marriage had taken place; see Southey to Edith Southey, 5 November [1813], Letter 2324. Southey was exploring the possibility that Edward might be found a position in the forces serving in Spain. BACK

[3] Southey’s first official poem as Poet Laureate was extremely controversial and much altered prior to publication. Five stanzas were considered by Croker and Rickman to be inflammatory. Southey bowed to pressure and deleted them from the version published as Carmen Triumphale in a quarto of 30 pages on 1 January 1814. He incorporated the deleted stanzas into an ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, published in the Courier, 3 February 1814. BACK

[4] i.e. Southey would have to castrate his poem, as the Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria (c. 185–c. 254) was believed to have castrated himself; presumably a Curate of Lorton in the Lake District was rumoured to have performed the same self-surgery. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013