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292. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 8 March 1798 ⁠* 

March 8. 98. Bristol.

My dear Wynn

The cause of my silence was waiting to hear from my brother Tom, that I might say something thro you to Ld Proby. his letter & yrs reached me together this morning. he will be very glad to go with Ld. P. from my Uncles letter I understand he is not to be rated in Ld Ps ship — but to go to Lisbon in her, where my Uncle can assist him thro Ld St Vincents. in this I may be mistaken. Tom is on board the Mars, & now at Spithead; your cousin I suppose will summon him in time, & his letter will afford a sufficient reason for quitting Capt Hood.

We have been a week at Bristol, in lodgings near those where you saw us, & I now begin to feel somewhat settled.

If I had not unpxx unpolitely declined the proffered honour, I should soon like Matthew Lewis have been exhibited in the booksellers shop. [1]  A Magazine Man has been requesting Cottle to obtain my permission, & likeness for the “Monthly Visitor.’ [2] 

In our opinion of Godwins book [3]  you & I differ, tho, perhaps, I agree with you upon the subject of marriage. perhaps, I say, as of all important questions it appears to me the most difficult of decision. I cannot however see any evil tendency in the book. surely it can persuade no woman to prefer concubinage to marriage; but xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxxx, I incline to the other opinion myself, but I do not think ill of those who differ in judgement from me.

My law & my printing go on well. all the latter employments will be off my hands when I get into the Pleaders Office – & then will there be a good poet spoilt. the inclination I never shall lose but if I should {ever} reach the goal I aim at, the power will perhaps be gone. If I can get tolerable practice as a Special Pleader I certainly think it adviseable to rest there.  [4]  I feel assured that xx to speak well in public is what I cannot attain to. The fluency which I had something of formerly, is gone – , I express myself with difficulty, & awkwardness even in conversation, if any effort of recollection be necessary. this is one of the changes in my character of which I am sensible.

I expect to send you my new edition [5]  in five weeks. I should be satisfied with it did I not know what I could make Madoc. the poor Welsh man however must wait. [6]  There is a long lease of me to run, & he has the reversion.

God bless you.

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ 5. Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: B/ MR/ 12/ 98
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D
Unpublished. BACK

[1] W. Ridley’s engraving of Samuel Drummond’s (1765?–1844; DNB) portrait of Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775–1818; DNB) appeared in the Monthly Mirror, 2 (October 1796), opposite 323. BACK

[2] Southey’s portrait did not appear in the Monthly Visitor. BACK

[3] Probably William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793). BACK

[4] A Special Pleader was an expert in drafting ‘pleadings’ (the formal documents used in court). It was usual to practice as a Special Pleader before being called to the Bar. Southey, however, suggests that he did not intend to become a barrister and thus be obliged to appear in court. BACK

[5] Joan of Arc (1798). BACK

[6] Madoc was not published until 1805. BACK

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August 2011