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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1198. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [June 1806] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

In the first of the inclosed Letters [1]  there are three blanks which you can probably fill up for me – the number of theatres in London in Elizabeths time, the number of persons which the Pitt at Drury Lane holds, & the number of tiers of boxes there. [2] 

I dined yesterday with Mr Bunbury. [3]  after living here two years & keeping out of my way – he sent to invite me. He is not so clever a man as I had expected, tho very entertaining.

Bedford has sent me three sheets about the Abbey instead of extracts three sentences [4]  – I wanted a more sure description of Sir Cloudeslys monument [5]  & of Mr Thynnes [6]  than my own memory would supply to insert in a Letter which Duppa has written; [7]  for whatever relates to architecture & the arts he supplies me with. – Such another importation as the present will compleat the first volume – I shall begin the second with a journey to this part of England by way of Oxford, Birmingham & Liverpool.

Tell me whether you like Kehamas curse better in this form than in the original one –

I charm thy life
From the weapons of strife,
From stone & from wood
From fire & from flood;
From sickness I charm thee
And Time shall not harm thee, –
But this Earth which is mine
Its fruits shall deny thee,
And Water shall hear me
And know thee & fly thee,
And the Winds shall not touch thee
When the pass by thee,
And the Dews shall not cool thee
When they fall nigh thee:
And thou shalt seek Death
To release thee in vain,
And live in thy pain
While Kehama shall reign
With a fire in thy heart
And a fire in thy brain;
And Sleep shall obey me
And the Curse shall be on thee
For ever & ever. [8] 

If I remain the winter in England I shall finish this Poem instead of reviewing. as you say I shall miss the arrival of my parcels of new books, when the general goal jail delivery of Authors comes on [9] 

God bless you

RS

Friday


Notes

* Address: C W W Wynn Esqr
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D
Unpublished.
Dating note: RS replies to Grosvenor Bedford regarding the ‘three sheets about the Abbey’ in his letter to him of 17 June 1806 and Bunbury moved to Keswick c. 1804, so ‘after living here two years’ corroborates the year. BACK

[1] Southey’s Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[2] The new Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, built 1794, had five tiers and held a total of 3600 spectators. It burnt down in 1809. It features in Letter 18 of Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[3] Henry William Bunbury (1750–1811; DNB), father of Southey’s school friend Charles John Bunbury, who moved to Keswick c. 1804. BACK

[4] Southey had asked Bedford for these on 21 May; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 21 May 1806, Letter 1183. BACK

[5] The death of Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Cloudesley Shovell (1650–1707; DNB), in a shipwreck, is commemorated in Westminster Abbey in a large marble monument. He is depicted lying on a couch dressed in Roman armour, with a relief of the shipwreck at the base of the monument. The monument is not described in Letters from England. BACK

[6] Thomas Thynne (1647/8–1682; DNB) was murdered while travelling in his coach. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey under a large tombstone depicting his murder. The monument is not described in Letters from England. BACK

[7] Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella; Translated from the Spanish (1807), Letter 23. BACK

[8] The Curse of Kehama (1810), Book II, ‘The Curse’, lines 144–169. See volume 4 of Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004). BACK

[9] A reference to Southey’s reviewing work for the Annual Review, which he continued until 1808. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013