I bought eight volumes of old French Poetry at Lisbon,  published about 1720 by
Contellier. perhaps this is the same – or part of the same collection which you
mention as Cretin  is among them – & that
fellow whom Gibbon  mentions. Villon  I think his name who wrote a long poem xxxx when under sentence of death. but the
metrical chronicle is not Cretins. Les Vigilles de Charles 7.  I forget by whom, my ear is so Antigallican it never
retains a French sound. that poem is very curious – I have many extracts from
it. the most curious piece in the collection is I believe by Cretin – about 200
stanzas each of some remarkable thing of his time. I am more desirous to see the
poems by Froissart  than any thing else in the language – you will
find a better view of old French poetry in Pasquier  than in any other author.
Your censure of the Cid  has rather pleased me
because what you as well as I myself have felt to be in the xxxx spirit of poetry is nothing more than the
genuine language of the chronicles whence I have compiled. I am very sure that
the passages you would point out as most striking are literal translation. the
phrase denaturalize so exactly conveys its meaning that I have not now to alter
it – where it first occurs in the book I must explain that it was a form whereby
vassals legally threw off their allegiance, becoming enemies instead of vassals.
now to naturalize being an English word & precisely in
the converse meaning. it appears to me that the
to compound it with a privative was the shortest & most obvious of rendering
the meaning desired. the Cid is not so fair a specimen of my stile, as it is of
the manner in which I weave costume xxx
<with> the main thread. the oldest Spanish chronicle – that is in Spanish – the one compiled by order of Alonso the
Wise  is made up in great part of tradition preserved as is
usual chiefly in ballads. many of the facts are evidently the invention of these
poets, & tho the metre be lost the character of poetry generally appears.
this is the case with all their heroic period – from Bernardo del Carpio  down to
the Cid. you must believe a little more than you do of Theseus &
Hercules.  in the notes I shall distinguish what is certain truth but
they enter my preliminaries as the history <a
picture> of manners necessary to be understood than as history. xx xxx daylight begins only with in the Cids time.
I still suffer from weak eyes, an inflammation of the lower lids,
so painful at night that I am usually obliged to sit in a dark room. this has
sadly impeded my progress. I get on as well as I can but the loss of the candle
light hours destroys half of the best half of my time.
God bless you
* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn
Esqr M.P./ Lincolns Inn/ London
[partial] 122/ BRISTOL/ NOV 19
Endorsements: Nov 19/ 1802; Mr Wynn
MS: National Library of Wales, MS
Poetes Anciens Francais (1723-1762), no. 2269
in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK
 Guillaume Cretin (c.
1465-1525), French poet and chronicler. BACK
 Edward Gibbon
(1737-1794; DNB), ‘Extracts from the Journal’ in
Miscellaneous Works, 7 vols (London, 1796-1797), VI, p.
Villon (c. 1431-after 1463), Le Grand Testament
 Martial d’Auvergne (c. 1430/1435-1508)
Les Vigilles de la Mort de Charles VII
 Jean Froissart (c.
1337-c. 1405), best known for his chronicle, but also composer of narrative
and lyrical poetry. BACK
 Etienne Pasquier (1529-1615), Recherches de la
France (1560). BACK
 Southey had transcribed for Wynn material relating to Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar
(c. 1040-1099), a Castilian aristocrat and military commander, whose
exploits were the subject of numerous poems and tales. Southey’s English
translation and compilation of three of these was published in 1808 as
The Chronicle of the Cid. BACK
 The early to mid 14th-century
Cronica de Alfonso X (1221-1284), King of Castile and
Leon 1252-1284. BACK