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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1356. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [end of August 1807] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

It is well your accident was no worse, & will be well if it make you cautious of such danger in future.

I wish instead of falling foul upon the partridges in any other way than that of eating them, you would drive Bedford here, & let him give me earnest {how} of the visit he is to pay next year. My beds are full – for Tom is here, on leave of absence to recover his health – this however is of little matter when the town is so near. You would see me not indeed in all my glory, but still in great glory – all my books from Bristol have arrived, [1]  – that is all my Uncles as well as my own, & by the time you can arrive, the shelves will be finished & filled with them. Among other things for your inspection is a small collection of coins, where you will find demi letters & semi-demi-letters, & demi-semi-demi-letters enough for half a days delight. There are some very fine ones among them.

Bedford sent me a blank receipt to sign for my pension some three weeks ago. I signed it – but who received the money Heaven knows. He told me little was to be expected, & none has arrived. [2] 

I am going to press with the Cid. [3]  My possible profits by a quarto edition of 50 will be from 130 to 150 £. I would have sold the edition – the Longmen object to this, & offer advances instead. They write very civilly – indeed friendlily, – still all this is proof that my books have not the sale which they ought to have. In all probability I shall agree with them to edite Don Quixote – which they talk of printing, somewhat splendidly with prints from Smirke. [4]  I recommend them to have the old translation [5]  revised, instead of getting a new one – (which they proposed to me & I instantly refused) – & I offer to write a life of Cervantes – an account of his works, – an account of his library, as far as my own & those to which I have access will enable me, – & to annotate the whole. [6]  pleasant & easy work this, which will be in the way of my future works, & will, I hope produce enough to balance my account.

They ask my advice about a classified Catalogue Raisonnés of English Books – for those who form Libraries & for Booksellers – I can do so much of this so very easily, that if they undertake it, I shall probably engage for the main departments. [7]  These things are work of over hours which I look to to meet the extraordinaries of settling myself & collecting my books.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M. P./ Wynnstay/ Wrexham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D
Unpublished.
Dating note: Southey says that he received ‘a blank receipt’ to sign for his pension from Grosvenor Charles Bedford ‘some three weeks ago’. This was returned in his letter to Rickman on 8 August, which suggests this letter probably dates from the end of the month. BACK

[1] Sent by Charles Danvers via sea. BACK

[2] This was sent with Southey to John Rickman, 8 August 1807, Letter 1351. BACK

[3] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid, from the Spanish was published by Longmans in 1808. BACK

[4] Robert Smirke (1752–1845), painter and illustrator of editions of Shakespeare, the Arabian Nights, and Don Quixote (translated by his daughter, Mary Smirke, 1818). BACK

[5] Thomas Shelton (fl. 1598–1629; DNB), The History of the Valorous and Witty Knight-Errant, Don Quixote of the Mançha (1612–1620). In his 25 August letter to Longman, Southey advised that the ‘old edition of Don Quixote, if carefully collated and corrected, will, I believe, be very superior to any other’; see Southey to Longmans, 25 August 1807, Letter 1354. BACK

[6] Southey did not edit Don Quixote or write a life of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). BACK

[7] Southey did not edit a Catalogue Raisonné of current literature. For his reply to Longman, see Southey to Longmans, 20 September 1807, Letter 1360. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013