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603. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [30 August 1801] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

You will find me at Keswick. we arrived here on Wednesday. the Monday we breakfasted, owing to a chaise-accident, at a delightful little alehouse overlooking the Dee & within three miles of Wynnstay. twas my first introduction to the famous old river.

The Moallakat [1]  appears to me more tolerable than any thing that has yet appeared of Oriental poetry. bad enough it is, yet there are some passages of nice description. After reading all that Sir Wm Jones [2]  had translated, & all thought & dreamt about the orientals I cannot but think that his genius has been much over-rated. learning indeed he had equal to his ostentation, but a taste truly miserable.

This country is very beautiful – but very cold. it disappoints expectation. you will look for larger lakes & loftier mountains. the more I see them the more they become objects of admiration. but Skiddaw is a dwarf to Monchique – & I wish myself again at Cintra.

God bless you.

yrs truly

RS

Sunday evening.

Notes

* Endorsement: Aug 1801
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D
Unpublished.
Dating note: Southey’s letter to Grosvenor Bedford of Wednesday, 19 August 1801, Letter 599, stated he would leave for Keswick on the following Saturday, 22 August and arrive on ‘about’ Tuesday, 25 August. As this letter was written the following ‘Sunday evening’ it should be dated 30 August 1801. BACK

[1] A series of seven Arabian poems. Southey read them in translation in The Works of Sir William Jones, 6 vols (London, 1799), IV, pp. 244-335, and made notes; see Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 106-107. BACK

[2] Sir William Jones (1746-1794; DNB), Britain’s foremost orientalist. BACK

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August 2011