251. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 24 August 1797 

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

251. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 24 August 1797 ⁠* 

Burton. 24 Aug. 97.

I have amused myself with abusing the Reverend Robert Banyard, [1]  & he has amused himself with abusing me — but the balance is so much in my favour, that all his future reviews can never make it equal. thank you for Miss Anna Sewards delectable composition [2]  — it shall be well preserved for you.

the word “incumbent” [3]  is I think appropriate — peculiarly so. as for ‘magnanimates” [4]  it is a piece of bad money that I borrowed — so you must acquit me of coining & bring in a verdict of petty larceny. tis in the translation of the huge romance Cleopatra by a Robert Loveday, [5]  who from the recommendatory verses prefixd to his book seems to have possessed more celebrity than diffidence. the idea immediately following that word is from the same work “thus did Juba catch up the shield of death to defend himself from ignominy.” [6]  I mean to acknowledge such all such imitations in the new edition, they will rather display my learning than poverty, — & besides an honest man ought not to deck himself in borrowed splendour. magnanimates shall out.

We shall not agree upon Henry of Monmouths [7]  character. certainly he lived in the worst of periods — but I do not find in any other man of his warlike reputation, the same cool & inflexible barbarity. the Oldcastle business [8]  I am not fully acquainted with but will refer this morning to the Chronicle; could he not have changed the mode of that poor madmans execution? did I tell you that he made his Agincourt captives wait upon him? — as if to fill up the contrast between his character & that of the Black Prince. [9] 

I will send you Lloyds poems as reprinted with his others to London. that he should have written & felt as he did for the death of his grandmother would not be wondered at were it known what a woman she was. a cancer killed her — she knew it to be incurable & bore it without in secresy for two years — it had eaten away the bone of her thigh before she died — & yet she was never heard to groan or complain — nor ever suffered any person to sit up with her . of such compleat Christian fortitude as the whole of her conduct exhibited I never before heard. by the by Nares has reviewed those poems in an infamous manner.  [10]  he who could read them & then write in that manner upon the subject, must be have a heart of very bad stuff. I am glad you like his poems.

Bedford has not yet sent the books. I condemn his general fickleness as severely as you can do — tho in this case the folly seems to me to have been in taking up the study not in abandoning it. as for being of use to mankind — it is a phrase of very wide signification, & I & Ld Carysfort should probably differ much in xxxx defining it. but I know not what he means to do — but I believe his irresolution will [MS obscured]er leave him, & that he will never be useful to others or happy in himself. I tell him this in my letters, & he half acknowledges it. but he will not mend — & there is a very excellent fellow spoilt.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ Wynnstay/ near Wrexham/ Denbighshire/ Wales
Stamped: RINGWOOD
Postmark: BAU/ 25/ 97
Endorsement: Aug. 24/ 1797
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Banyard’ is possibly a nickname for Robert Nares. BACK

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

[3] Robert Southey, Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), pp. 32, 62, 389. BACK

[4] Robert Southey, Joan of Arc, An Epic Poem (Bristol and London, 1796), p. 391. BACK

[5] Robert Loveday (1620/21–1656; DNB), Hymen’s Præludia, or, Love’s Master-Piece (1652, 1654 and 1655), a three-part translation of La Calprenède’s (Gaultier de Coste, Seigneur de La Calprenède) (c. 1610–1663), Cléopâtre (1652). BACK

[6] Robert Loveday, Hymen’s Præludia, or, Love’s Master-Piece (1652, 1654 and 1655), p. 88. The quotation appeared in Joan of Arc, 2nd edn, 2 vols, (Bristol, 1798), II, pp. 247–248. BACK

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

[8] Henry V was involved in the trial and execution of John Oldcastle, Baron Cobham (d. 1417; DNB). BACK

[9] A comparison of Henry V’s conduct with that of Edward, Prince of Wales, the Black Prince (1330–1376; DNB), who reputedly waited upon the captured French king, John II (1319–1364; reigned 1350–1364). BACK

[10] Robert Nares’s review of Charles Lloyd’s Poems on the Death of Priscilla Farmer (1796) in the British Critic, 9 (May 1797), 557. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009