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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1350. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 1 August [1807] ⁠* 

My Dear Wynn

As for the Specimens I can only say that Hinchcliffes poem [1]  is one of those which I ordered to be expunged, both viva voce to Bedford in London when I saw it in print: repeatedly afterwards before the publication of the book & after the publication also. [2]  If it still remains it must be because the book could not be found to supply the omission.

I did not review Dutens. [3]  Were I disposed to set much value upon my Annual labours your complaint of this volume would flatter me, the truth being that there is not in it one half so much of mine as there is in the former volume. Besides what you particularized there are only Barrows Cochin China Clarkes Naufragia –Report of the Bible Society. Lancasters Letter. Life of Dermody. Duppas M. Angelo. Sir D Lindsays Works. Accounts of two attempts to civililize some Indian natives. Clarksons Quakerism & Jarrolds Dissertations on man. [4]  But the year was barren of subjects – I rejected many books that I might set upon South America, & for the same reason did not volunteer another Missionary article which else would have been written, [5]  – & a thorough reviewal of Dante which I had else projected for the sake of studying him well & being paid for it.

What you say upon Bank notes has much good sense in it, & I shall avail myself of it, as also of any thing remarks you may make upon any other part of the work. [6]  Those letters which relate to the state of fanaticism & sectarianism in the country are the most valuable: [7]  they are matters of fact & of history, & if they teach the chu high churchmen that their real danger is not from philosophy they will do some real good. By the by I learn that a book has been written against my Anti-Methodistic review, [8]  besides letters in magazines wherein I am accused among other things of an impure imagination for my picture of the consequences of confession. So I shall send for Mr. Bensons book & at them again.

Trumpet shall be restored if you desire it: but I must use the word tambor in the Cid for the atambor of the Spaniards: it being evidently the same word, & very probably a different instrument from the drum. This book will speedily go to press. The parcel which I expected from Lisbon has reached Liverpool, & as soon as it reaches me, I shall make my bargain with the booksellers, with whom my reputation stands better than my cash account. [9]  The Specimens are of course too bad to sell: that sprat was my wicked pun – what could be said better of such a minnow among the fry of Poets? [10]  – The horse is Bedfords who has committed abominations out of number, & often delivered opinions diametrically the opposite of mine. I had 100£ when last in town for the first edition of Espriella supposing it were to sell for 15/. What its price is they have not told me, if a guinea as I suppose, they will give me credit in due proportion. Palmerin [11]  is printed on our joint account & I suspect I have done wrong, for it is sure to pay, & not sure of any thing beyond. I shall sell the first edition of the Cid, which will make a thirty shilling quarto: As my articles are the best in the Annual except Wm Taylors I think I shall raise my price, & no longer let my work be rated at the same per-sheet as our Well-Beloved Cousins & Miss Lucy Aikins. [12] 

I give you joy of your hopes. [13]  I also have hopes of the same kind, [14]  hopes they truly are for let my family be ever so numerous I never feel a fear of their eventually doing well.

My reason for doing so little in the new Madoc was that it might not be supposed I had done anything, otherwise the remains of the quarto would be rendered unsaleable. [15]  At present As yet I have heard no other return of its profits than the 3–17–1. & would have no expectation that ten copies have told since. But as the poem strikes root, which ultimately it must & will do, that edition will be chosen for its size & beauty, if it be not be superseded by a corrected one. Therefore I make no preliminaries or alterations [MS obscured] it be sold.

For some time I have been expecting & indeed almost hoping to hear of Horaces death.

We have well nigh got thro our indoor works. & I expect early next week no less than eight & twenty packages from Bristol, 18 of which are books. You see I have fairly anchored myself for life, & with an anchor too heavy ever to be weighed again.

Tomorrow I go to Ambleside for a few days, & am not without thoughts of making a visit to Mrs Dixon. [16]  Did I ever tell you that I am in the good graces of the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Llandaff? [17]  who does me the honour of placing me under the shadow of his wing when I call upon him.

Cobbett  [18]  I see has fallen foul upon Mr Charles Wynn – forgetting all his former merits when serving for Old Sarum – I am a great admirer of Lord Cochrane, [19]  & would wish no better fortune to my brother than to be under a man who is so thoroughly & deservedly beloved by all who have ever served under him – Your party seems to me likely to split, if Whitbread [20]  speak the sense of his when he talks of peace, – the only thing which is really to be dreaded. If you are consistent you will stand upon your own ground, & in spite of taxes the nation x will now be with you.

Your godson is teething & has just been weaned from necessity. he is a fine fellow, & makes what I call a legitimate noise. Edith the younger is growing a great girl, & will soon with the help of grey hairs make me feel that I am no longer a young man. And yet by Gods blessing I trust to carry with me a boys heart & a boys spirits to the grave. I never yet saw any person whose spirits were so uniformly joyous.

God bless you

RS

August 1


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M. P./ Wynnstay/ Wrexham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D
Unpublished. BACK

[1] William Hinchcliffe (1692–1742) was represented in the Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), I, pp. 399–404, by ‘On Seeing Philesia at her Window, Viewing a Wedding’, ‘To Philesia, a Day Before Her Coming to Town’, and ‘A Song of Thanksgiving’. If no substitution was made, then it is probably the first of these, with its voyeurism of a wedding couple, to which Southey and Wynn objected. BACK

[2] For these requests, see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 14 March 1807 (Letter 1286), 15 March 1807 (Letter 1288), [1 April 1807] (Letter 1303), and 21 April 1807 (Letter 1309). BACK

[3] Louis Dutens (1730–1812; DNB), Memoirs of a Traveller now in Retirement (1805) was reviewed in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807), 327–339. BACK

[4] Southey reviewed the following in the Annual Review for 1806, 5 (1807): John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), A Voyage to Cochin China, in the Years 1792, and 1793: Containing a General View of the Productions, and Political Importance of this Kingdom; and also of such European Settlements as were Visited on the Voyage, with Sketches of the Manners, Character, and Condition of their Inhabitants (1806), 2–16; James Burney, A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean ... Illustrated with Charts (Vol. 2; 1806), 16–30; James Stanier Clarke (1765?-1834; DNB), Naufragia, or, Historical Memoirs of Shipwrecks (1805–1806), 71–72; Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (1805), 155–160; Patrick Colquhoun (1745–1820), [Joseph Lancaster (1778–1838; DNB)] A New and Appropriate System of Education for the Labouring People (1806), 278–282; John Wooll (bap. 1767–1833; DNB), Biographical Memoirs of the late Revd. Joseph Warton, Master of St. Mary Winton College; Prebendary of Winchester Cathedral; and Rector of the Parishes of Wickham and Upham, Hants: to which are added, a Selection from his Works; and a Literary Correspondence Between Eminent Persons, Reserved by him for Publication (1806), 298–305; Lucy Hutchinson (née Apsley; 1620–1681; DNB) and Julius Hutchinson (dates unknown), Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson (1806), 361–378; James Grant Raymond (1771–1817), The Life of Thomas Dermody (1806), 383–397; Henry Richard Fox, 3rd Lord Holland, Some Account of the Life and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega Carpio (1806), 397–411; Richard Duppa, The Life and Literary Works of Michael Angelo Buonarotti, with his Poetry and Letters (1806), 411–425; George Chalmers, (bap. 1742–1825; DNB), ed., The Poetical Works of Sir David Lyndsay (1806), 482–494; Thomas Moore (1779–1852; DNB), Epistles, Odes and Other Poems (1806), 498–499; [Society of Friends of Pennsylvania], Accounts of Two Attempts Towards the Civilization of Some Indian Natives (1806), 589–593; Thomas Clarkson, A Portraiture of Quakerism, as Taken From a View of the Moral Education, Discipline, Peculiar Customs, Religious Principles, Political and Civil Œconomy, and Character, of the Society of Friends (1806), 594–607; Thomas Jarrold (1770–1853; DNB), Dissertations on Man, Philosophical, Physiological and Political; in Answer to Mr. Malthus’s ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’ (1806), 607–615. BACK

[5] That is, for the sake of making progress towards his History of Brazil, Southey had turned down the chance to review the latest transactions of the missionary societies. Southey reviewed the Transactions of the Missionary Society in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 189–201, and the Annual Review for 1804, 3 (1805), 621–634. BACK

[6] In Letter 22 of Letters from England, Southey discusses bank notes and their forgery. BACK

[7] In Letter 70 of Letters from England. BACK

[8] Southey reviewed William Myles (1756–1828), A Chronological History of the People Called Methodists ... With an Appendix, Containing Two Lists of the Itinerant Preachers ... With the Last Will and Testament of the Rev. J. Wesley (1803) in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 201–213. Joseph Benson (1749–1821; DNB) published Inspector of Methodism Inspected (1803), but its principal target was not Southey’s review but an article in the Christian Observer. BACK

[9] Southey’s edition, Chronicle of the Cid, from the Spanish, was published by Longmans in 1808. It comprised translations from the Crónica Particular del Cid (1593), with additions from the Crónica de España of Alphonso the Wise (1541) and Romancero e Historia del Cid (1632). Southey had been waiting for some books sent by his uncle, Herbert Hill; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 11 June 1807, Letter 1331. BACK

[10] Thomas Sprat (1635–1713; DNB), English divine. The headnote for Sprat reads: ‘Aptly named sprat, as being one of the least among the Poets. – Exempli gratiâ’, Specimens of the Later English Poets, 3 vols (London, 1807), I, p.168. BACK

[11] Palmerin of England; by Francisco de Moraes. Corrected by Robert Southey from the Original Portugueze (1807). BACK

[12] Contributors to the Annual Review: Charles Wellbeloved (1769–1858), Lucy Aikin (1781–1864; DNB). Wellbeloved was a friend and Lucy Aikin the sister of the editor Arthur Aikin. BACK

[13] Wynn’s wife gave birth to a daughter (first name unknown) in 1808. Southey’s letter congratulating him is dated [March 1808], Letter 1427. BACK

[14] Emma, the Southeys’ fifth child was born on 9 February 1808. BACK

[15] Madoc (1805) was published in a smaller, duodecimo edition in 1807. For the changes, see Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004), II. BACK

[16] Mary Dixon (d.1820) and her husband Jeremiah Dixon, of Fell Foot, Windermere (later of Balla Wray, Ambleside), were generous hosts to Wordsworth and Southey, and neighbours of Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff. Mrs Dixon, daughter of the engineer John Smeaton, was an amateur artist; she also established a school. BACK

[17] Southey had done so; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19 July 1806, Letter 1203. BACK

[18] In Cobbett’s Political Register, 12.4 (25 July 1807), 115–116, William Cobbett ridiculed Wynn for defending the parliamentary privilege that prevented MPs being arrested for debt. BACK

[19] In parliament the newly elected Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775–1860; DNB), became a radical MP and critic of corruption and nepotism in the navy and in the government. BACK

[20] Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB), Whig politician and advocate of a negotiated peace with Napoleon. BACK

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August 2013