354. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 29 October 1798 *
Shewing how an Old Woman rode double, & who rode before her.
the story in the xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx <Liber Cronicarum> printed at Nuremberg 1498, with a wood cut; in Olaus Magnus, & more at large in Matthew of Westminster. 
You ask me respecting your brothers inscriptions.  they never reached me. I received no letter from you during your stay in Ireland. about Messrs Burrows & Armitt  the blunder was not mine – you sent me only their names. was I to direct Dublin or Cork or Belfast? I could not guess.
I shall be in town the 13th of next month. Blackstone Coke & Boote  are all the Law Books I have & those I have read till I am tired – which however does not necessarily imply much reading. I have read them till I find nothing new strike me, but it does not lay hold of my memory. that see[MS torn] like the King of Portugals sieve,  it holds large jewels but the rubbish runs thro. I am anxious to be settled, but my views begin again to grow uncertain. Edith is again very unwell. her constitution is very weak indeed, & I dread the effects of London air & London confinement. it will certainly be right to try how she bears London before I go enter an office. When I see you I will talk more fully upon the subject. I cannot move freely; my mother is with me, & a cousin, a poor girl, disabled by the frequente returns of a disease almost as dreadful as the leprosy, from providing for herself. my brother Harry too has only me to look to. from my Uncle I expect some assistance, but as yet have had none, & he has not much in his power. with these expences I have kept pace, & can support them, but it is only by giving up more time to, to money [MS obscured] scribbling than it would be right in other circumstances to give. on this account I add pieces enough to my Vision to make a second volume,  as I told you. this is in the Press, & will do me credit I think, I calculate my profits at forty pounds.
My brother Tom is on board Lord Bridports ship.  this removal he owes to the engagement, but he expects nothing more as Ld B. is about to strike his flag. I am certainly very proud of my brother, but not for the engagement. he is a fine, affectionate, spirited young man, who has struggled thro many disadvantages & difficulties, & has all the good parts of a [MS obscured] without any of the bad ones. he will I doubt not do well. my two other brothers  will have fewer disadvantages, but I shall be very happy if they succeed <turn out> as well. Nature has done much for them
I think it would be well if I could get a play upon the stage. this is mentioned not as a serious thought yet – but what would be one if you encouraged it. you know with what rapidity I write – after chusing a subject it would not employ me more than a month. this is the only profitable mode of writing – here the profits are more than they ought to be, for every thing else less. the profits of a play are from 2 to 700 pounds. do you think it a lottery worth adventuring in? my name would forward it with a manager, & might be kept secret not to injure it with the Anti Jacobines & English Orange men. I think xxxxx a good play would succeed if assisted by spectacle. now here is an egg laid which you may either crush or hatch in a moment.
You will I think be pleased with my English Eclogues.  they are dramatically good, & some of them satisfy me more than most of my smaller pieces. they are all serious, but sufficiently diversif[MS obscured] in subject. I have a fine plan for a romantic poem The Destruction of the Dom Daniel  – if I had leisure it should prove that I do not reject machinery in the epic from poverty of invention, but can wield the wand of enchantment at least as ably as Wieland. 
I thank you for your account of Carnedd,  the superstition of the flame strikes me as the see[MS obscured] of a ballad.  you will be amused with the following proof of p peasant ignorance. it is strictly true. A clergyman, a friend of mine, was walking over his fields with one of his parishioners, & noticed some fairy rings on the grass. Ah, said the man, they be what the fairies makes ... we do not see em now, but they were seen often enough in the olden times. What do you mean by the olden times? said the clergyman. why olden times – the times of the scriptures. you do read about em in the bible. no, he answerd, I am sure theres nothing said of them in the bible. Oh yes there is. I’ve heard you read about em very often. about the Scribes & Phārisees you know. Must not this man have had fine ideas of the New Testament?
God bless you
Westbury. Oct. 29. 98.
Your last was franked Wrexham & put into the office at Chester.
 Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514), Liber Chronicorum (popularly known in English as the Nuremberg Chronicle) (1493, but many subsequent editions); Olaus Magnus (1490–1557), Swedish ecclesiastic and writer, Historia de Gentibus Septsentrionalibus (1555), Book III, chapter 20; Matthew of Westminster, alleged author of the Flores Historiarum, the name given to a number of different manuscript chronicles of English history in Latin, from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (see C. D. Yonge, The Flowers of History, 2 vols (1853), I, pp. 400–401). BACK
 William Blackstone (1723–1780; DNB), Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769); Edward Coke (1552–1643; DNB), Institutes of the Laws of England (1628–1644); and Richard Boote (d. 1782), An Historical Treatise of an Action or Suit at Law (1766). BACK