249. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 August 1797

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

249. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 August 1797 ⁠* 

Wednesday. August 16. 1797.

The Poole Mail will convey Coke [1]  to me, & the Christ Church cart leave it at my door.

I beseech you send me the verses of Miss Anna Seward; [2]  they shall be carefully returned. as for her favorite Henry the fifth [3]  I can only say the more I learn of his character the more detestable it appears. our Edwards were tolerable considering the day they lived in. I have never thought so highly as our historians of the Black Princes waiting at supper upon the captive King, [4]  it was an ill judged condescension & must have been painful to John. he should have supped with him. but Henry after the battle of Agincourt made the his prisoners wait upon him. I find this in an old Chronicler whose name seems almost to have perished. Edmond Howes. [5]  he wrote under Elizabeth James & in the earlier years of Charles & expresses obligations to Sir Edward Coke & Master Camden. [6] 

The account you have sent me of the Rebutter in the action at Paris is subsequent to the action of my poem. Burgundys defection appears sufficiently important to justify the anachronism & indeed the business of Orleans first occasioned dissentions between him & Bedford. [7]  Surely Wynn if you will look at Bedfords nose, you will see how fit he was to burn the Maid. I have a great physiognomical dislike to him.

Shakespere mentions the thunder & lightning. I find Gladdisdale there under the name of Sir William Glansdale.  [8]  but what name can have been metamorphosed into Glacidas? Du Serres [9]  mentions him, & Chapelain [10]  kills him at the falling in of the bridge, an incident of which he has made little use, tho so very fine in itself. does there appear to you too much attempt at artifice in suppressing the name of Theodore till his death? the pen of expurgation has passed thro the long speech of stupidity P. 147–148. will you like leopard or libbard? I have used the first.

Charles Lloyd is with me — an unexpected visitor. his poems that made so awkward a folio [11]  figure are now printed in the pocket size with Coleridges & Lambs. [12] 

My simily which you like of Azrael, [13]  is not historically or rather fabulously correct. the visit is true but the effects his presence produced I had connected from the Devil in the Duke of Guise [14]  who was such an adept in drawing up deeds. I shall not alter it. Hræsvelger puzzled every body — I shall satisfy them by quoting the Vafthrudnismal. [15] 

the 8th book must conclude with the simily which ends line 684. I shall want the rest to lengthen out the 9th for which the business with Burgundy affords not enough materials. prolixity is always bad.

I think Grosvenor much more to blame in beginning his study of law than in abandoning it. he has not time for it — nor, as I think, any adequate motive. true this should have been considered earlier, but he expected more leisure & has been disappointed. with enough at present, x the prospect one day of independance, & having no friends who require his assistance, I think it the duty of a wise man rather to improve his mind than his fortune. Bedford wants steadiness. he has not even enough to be happy.

God bless you. I will work like a cart-horse to get to my journeys end.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Address: For/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ 5. Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London
Postmarks: AU/ 17/ 97; FREE/ AU/ 17/ 97
Endorsement: August 16/ 1797
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 140–142. BACK

[1] Sir Edward Coke (1552–1643; DNB), Institutes of the Laws of England (1628–1644). BACK

[2] Anna Seward (1747–1809; DNB), ‘Written by Anna Seward, After Reading Southey’s Joan of Arc’ appeared in the Morning Chronicle on 5 August 1797. BACK

[3] Henry V (1386/7–1422; reigned 1413–1422; DNB). BACK

[4] The story that Edward, Prince of Wales, the Black Prince (1330–1376; DNB), waited upon the captured French king John II (1319–1364; reigned 1350–1364). BACK

[5] Edmund Howes (fl. 1602–1631; DNB), The Annales, or Generalle Chronicle of England, Begun First by Maister John Stow, and After Him Continued and Augmented with Matters Forreine and Domesticall unto the End of Yeare 1610, by E. H. (1611). BACK

[6] William Camden (1551–1623; DNB), antiquary. BACK

[7] John, Duke of Bedford (1389–1435; DNB). BACK

[8] A character in the first part of Henry VI. BACK

[9] Jean De Serres (1540–1598), Histoire de France (1598). Southey used the English translation by Edward Grimestone (dates unknown), published in 1607, for the second edition of Joan of Arc. BACK

[10] Jean Chapelain (1595–1674), La Pucelle ou la France Délivrée (1756). BACK

[11] Charles Lloyd, Poems on the Death of Priscilla Farmer (1796). BACK

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

[13] Azrael, the archangel of death, appears in Southey’s Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[14] John Dryden (1631–1700; DNB) and Nathaniel Lee (1649–1692; DNB), The Duke of Guise (1683). BACK

[15] A poem in the Edda, a verse translation of which appeared in Amos Simon Cottle, Icelandic Poetry, or the Edda of Saemund Translated into English Verse (Bristol, 1797), pp. [3]–39. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009

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