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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 1: 1791-1797, Edited By Lynda Pratt

233. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 11 July [1797] ⁠* 

11th. July. Burton near Ringwood.

My dear Wynn

I have an anecdote of Kosciuskos [1]  reception at Bristol which will amuse & please you. an old confectioner by name Burge [2]  was determined to make him some present, & he resolved to make him {it should be} a cake of the very best materials. he did this himself, inscribed it in coloured carroways “to the gallant Kosciusko, & set off with this, as much as he could carry, to the American Consuls where he was. his determined perseverance conquerd the servants refusal, & up he went with his cake following the servant & repeating his set speech. But when he saw Kosciusko lying on a couch — so emaciated — so pale — the poor fellow burst into tears, put down his cake, & ran out of the room without speaking a word.

I have this minute received a cargo from Lisbon among in which are 25 views taken by my Uncle on our road. some of these I must have engraved for a second edition, & very beautiful they will be.

I told you my brothers adventures, but at that time did not know the whole of the matter. his capture probably saved his life. for the mast was gone & every pump at work in the vessel which his Captain [3]  ordered him to carry into port, at the time when he was sent on board it, & they expected to founder when the privateer took them. now Captain Barlow wrote word to my Mother that the ship was quite new & sound! — but the French captain who behaved so kindly to Tom, is now himself a prisoner at Plymouth; he wrote to my brother begging him if he could to get him exchanged or enlarged upon parole; this letter came to me; & I have procured some letters to Plymouth people to do what they can for this man who deserves every return from me.  [4] 

This business of poor Chattertons sister [5]  is in a fair train — & I hope, with little trouble, to make the rest of her days comfortable. did I tell you Herbert Crofts villainy? [6]  he has not yet answered Cottles letter; [7]  Cottle has informed him that unless he makes a satisfactory reply by a certain day, the whole business shall be made public; & a blacker scene of treachery was never yet laid open.

You cannot conceive how my happiness is increased by being in the co[MS obscured] it is a new existence. every old enjoyment is increased & [MS obscured] find a thousand new ones. Edith is much better than when we left town. here is fine pickling & I take advantage of it. there is but one plague here (bating the forest flies which I do not feel because I never ride) & that is the old Lady Strathmore [8]  who annoys me with invitations. a very good-for-nothing old woman with a toothless tone half unintelligible.

Lloyds poems [9]  are published now with Coleridges & Lambs in one volume,  [10]  & that awkward folio now makes a few pocket-sized pages.

God bless you. When you come down to be chaired Bedford & I will get a sedan for you & eke out out constituents so that you may have enough to carry you. we shall find out the place by getting the exact latitude & steering by the compass.

however I can have a proof sheet twice a week, when Joan of Arc is printing, enclosed to you. xxxx tis an ill wind &c.

You ought to have been Sancho & then Dapple might have gone in character [11]  — I have a large paper copy printing for you of the [MS obscured] would it be civil to send Richards [12]  one? or is it a civility better left alone?

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey


Notes

* Address: C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ 5 Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London./ Single
Stamped: RINGWOOD
Postmark: AJY/ 12/ 97
Watermark: Crest/ G R
Endorsement: 11 July 97
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 132–134. BACK

[1] The Polish patriot Thaddeus Kosciusko (1746–1817), who visited Bristol on 13 June 1797 on his way to America. He was greeted by local dignitaries and his departure from the port was a great public event. BACK

[2] Matthews’s New Bristol directory, for the year, 1793–4 (Bristol, [1793]), p. 19, lists four confectioners called Burge. BACK

[3] Sir Robert Barlow (1757–1843; DNB). BACK

[4] Southey worked — successfully — to gain the release of Captain Boutet (first name and dates unknown). BACK

[5] Thomas Chatterton’s (1752–1770; DNB) sister, Mary Newton (1749–1804; DNB). BACK

[6] Herbert Croft, 5th Baronet (1751–1816; DNB), writer and lexicographer. Southey and Cottle both disapproved of his exploitation of manuscripts obtained from members of Thomas Chatterton’s family. BACK

[7] Joseph Cottle had written to Croft, informing him if he did not financially recompense Chatterton’s sister, Mrs Newton, his misconduct would be exposed. See Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), p. 145. BACK

[8] Mary Eleanor Bowes (1749–1800; DNB), heiress, botanist and author of a five act play, The Siege of Jerusalem (1769). Her first husband was John Lyon (1737–1776), 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, her second the fortune-hunter Andrew Robinson Stoney (1747–1810). In 1789 her abusive marriage to Stoney ended in an acrimonious and scandalous divorce. BACK

[9] Charles Lloyd (1775–1839; DNB), Poems on the Death of Priscilla Farmer (1796). BACK

[10] Poems, by S. T. Coleridge, Second Edition. To Which are Now Added Poems by Charles Lamb, and Charles Lloyd (1797). BACK

[11] In Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616), Don Quixote (1605–1615), Dapple is the name of Sancho Panza’s ass. It was also the nickname of Grosvenor Charles Bedford. BACK

[12] Probably Sir Richard Richards (1752–1823; DNB), an eminent lawyer in Chancery. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009