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637. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 9 December [1801] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

Since you left London I have hardly had leisure to miss you not from the pressure of official business – going with Corry & his son [1]  to Walkers Lectures [2]  is all I do in my secretaryship – My Mother arrived on the Monday – in far worse health than I had expected. indeed she appears far gone in consumption. some symptoms which usually attend that cursed disease do not appear – & this is some little ground of hope. but consumption has not always those symptoms. Of course much time & all attention is taken up –. these evils must come. – My connections in life are dropping off as I advance, & no young ties supply their places. – I will tell you what shape my plans – or my ideas of plans according to Platonic philosophy [3]  – have lately been assuming. this foolish place under Corry cannot subsist a second year. from no fault on my part nor any unwillingness. but he does not want me – I am utterly useless to him – he is a weak man & therefore an unsteady one. plan about me he can have had none – what he says today is merely for the sake of saying something – he did not think of it yesterday – & he will not remember it tomorrow. I know I am right in thus judging – varnish the portrait with all gentlemanlike-courtesy as you will – still this is the likeness. Whether or not he will give me any situation in his own dear country – who can tell? – all I can say is, that as most assuredly I have no claim – so surely it is wisest to have no expectation. If then at the years end – I am as I was at the beginning, my wish is to return to Cumberland, & sit quietly down. if any new changes should make an administration with whom I have any interest – of course a situation in the South of Europe would be very acceptable. if not – I can live in that country to the extent of my wishes upon a very small income. I can be luxuriously lodged for 25 £ a year – & unless I greatly miscalculate can live more comfortably for three pounds a week (including every expence) than I do at this time for more than double that sum. I know not xxxx – if only inclination were consulted – how I could be more happily settled than in that leisure & that most lovely country.

As Corry only ties me by the leg – I am at full liberty to amuse myself within the length of the tethering string. for any serious employment I have not quiet enough, the correction of Madoc [4]  excepted – that, tho more slow & laborious than any other work, is yet a thing that can be done amid all interruptions, which any thing requiring continuous feeling could not. I am also about to write verses once more for the Morning Post – an employment not very irksome – unobjectionable because obscure & exceedingly convenient – inasmuch as it will bring in a guinea a week. I shall in this have a reference to after use – so you will see the Spanish ballads one by one.  [5] 

I shall miss Elmsley when he migrates to Edinburgh – far more than any other xxxxxxxx I should any other person, for I see him more frequently xx with & that always with pleasure.

Grosvenor is better – he has been very ill.

The two first books of Madoc will be ready for you when you return. do not fail – if you can – to borrow for you {me} the chronicle of Caradoc [6]  – I think that is its name –

God bless you

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey

Dec. 9. 25 Bridge Street


* Address: To/C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M. P./Wynnstay/Wrexham
Postmark: FREE/ DEC/ 10/ 1801
Endorsement: Dec. 9. 1801
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 263-264. BACK

[1] William Corry (c. 1786-1853). BACK

[2] Probably given by Adam Walker (1730/1-1821; DNB), famed for his lectures, especially on astronomy. BACK

[3] Plato (427/8-348/7 BC), Greek philosopher who believed physical objects were mere ‘shadows’ of their ideal or perfect forms. BACK

[4] Southey had finished a version of Madoc in 1797-1799. He was revising it for publication, but it did not appear until 1805. BACK

[5] Southey had ‘engaged’ to write poems for the Morning Post, owned by Daniel Stuart, as he had done in 1798-1799. But only three of his poems appeared in September-December 1801, and only two were Spanish ballads: ‘O Thou Moor of Moreria’ (Morning Post, 18 September 1801), and‘Ballad. From The Spanish’ (Morning Post, 23 December 1801). Southey did not publish anything further in the Morning Post until 4 February 1803. BACK

[6] The Brut y Tywysogion, a chronicle of Welsh history, 682-1332. It was believed that the author was Caradoc of Llancarfan (fl. 12th century), though he is not mentioned in any of the surviving manuscripts. BACK

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August 2011