265. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 20 October 1797 

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

265. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 20 October 1797 ⁠* 

October 20 1797 Bath

My dear Wynn

Can you tell me what were the arms of Salisbury & Talbot? they may be alluded to with good effect. Of Hungerford I accidentally found a singular circumstance connected with Hungerford. I rambled to Farley Castle, once the seat of that family, now a pile of ruins — small & trifling but well situated. the chapel is still roofed, & in a vault beneath lie five of the Hungerfords in pickle, in leaden cases bearing much such a rude resemblance to the human form as the mummy outsides a small leaden box contains their entrails. a hole has been bored by the shoulder of one, & in probing with a stick the bone xxx the shoulder may distinctly be felt, & the leathery fleshliness of the neck.

I have had no Coke [1]  yet. Bedford has a mischievous habit of delaying what he has to do. to instance in trifles — he has never yet given me a Musæus. [2] 

I have now omitted every thing miraculous, & given the historical account of the Maids first appearance. the burning of the Herald also is done. what remains to do is trifling — little alterations of lines & words, & a few insertions to mark the costume.

Madame Elizabeth [3]  cannot be connected with the names of Brissot & Rolands wife [4]  on account of the sentiments which associate with them. if a place can fitly be found I will willingly make mention of her — so as to but I must be careful not to be considered as confounding revolutionary excesses with revolutionary opinions.

I have procured an old translation of De Serres. [5]  but I am told the best account of the Maid is in the Histoire de l’Eglise Gallican par Berthier, [6]  a book I have sought for in vain. in Weys book from Le Grand [7]  there is a note from the Journal of Paris at that period, relating to her, which furnished me with subject for some of my best lines — they relate to a place she frequented in Lorraine called the Fountain of the Fairies. do you know either of these books?

I mean to consult Burneys History of Music [8]  for the instrument of the 14th century. in Chaucer I for ever find the ribible [9]  — but nothing else & no explanation of that. now tho I have used one word which nobody understands. the jazerent of double mail — I shall not take the same liberty with another. jazerina often occurs in the Guerras Civiles de Granada. [10] 

fare you well. I shall keep term the 20th of next month.

God bless you.

yrs sincerely

R Southey.

I forgot to say I saw Old Sarum. [11] 


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ Wynnstay/ Wrexham/ Denbighshire
Stamped: BATH
Postmark: [illegible]
Endorsements: Oct 20 1797; Oct 20/ 97
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Edward Coke (1552–1643; DNB), Commentarie upon Littleton (1628), the first part of his four part Institutes of the Laws of England (1628–1644). BACK

[2] Grosvenor Charles Bedford’s translation of Musæus (fl. c. early 6th century), The Loves of Hero and Leander (1797). BACK

[3] Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène of France (1764–1794), sister of Louis XVI (1754–1793; reigned 1774–1792), was executed in May 1794. BACK

[4] The leading Girondists, Jacques Pierre Brissot (1754–1793), who was executed in October 1793, and Marie-Jeanne Roland de la Platiere (1754–1793), who was executed in November 1793. BACK

[5] 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 (1798). BACK

[6] Guillaume-François Berthier (1704–1782), Histoire de l’Eglise Gallican (1745–1749). BACK

[7] Gregory Lewis Way’s (1757–1799) translation of Fabliaux or Tales, Abridged from French Manuscripts of the XIIth and XIIIth Centuries by M. Le Grand, Selected and Translated into English Verse (London, 1796), especially p. 232. BACK

[8] Charles Burney (1726–1814; DNB), A General History of Music (1776–89). BACK

[9] The ribible is a three-stringed viol, often mentioned in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400; DNB); see for example, The Miller’s Tale. BACK

[10] Gines Perez de Hita (1544?–1619?), Guerras Civiles de Granada (1595–1604). BACK

[11] Charles Watkin Williams Wynn had been returned as a Member of Parliament for the notoriously rotten borough of Old Sarum, near Salisbury on 29 July 1797. BACK

Published @ RC

March 2009

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