846. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 28 October 1803 *
If a Lieutenant Colonel who has all the volunteers of two huge countries command,  can find leisure for those researches which entitle him to the degree of F.A.S.  he may help out a poem  which certainly ought to entitle me to the Poet Laureatship of the Principality.
What was the dress of the Welsh? I have given Ririd  at a venture a shirt of fine linen – a tunic – an embroidered girdle – a mantle bordered with fur – & a fur cap – & he looks very well in it. Supposing that they had assimilated to Saxon decency I would have given him breeches, but neither breeches, small clothes, indescribables, pantaloons, nor galligaskins could be put in in English <verse>. Stockings may have been in use then, but could not when the King has a Pedifer to chaf his feet as he sate at table. 
I am going to carry Madoc to Bardsey.  if you have Powell  or Warrington  at hand do tell me which of the old Kings were buried there. Owen Gwynedh  & his father Gryffedh  were buried at Bangor. I could make a swelling & sonorous passage about the old gentlemen & their worthinesses – if I knew them. The extract which I made at Wynnstay from the Royal Tribes  & the Gwydir History  are become very useful. twas unfortunate that we did not visit Bardsey – I feel it now. this Welsh part of the poem  will be very Odyssey-like. I am weaving into it all the collectable circumstances of the time & manners of the peoples in this order. Journey to Mathrafal – the Hirlas Horn – the Grave of Jorwerth at Pennant Melangel the Meeting of the Bards. Dinevor & the Embassy of Gwgan of Caer Einion from the Royal Tribes.  thus far is done. then come Bardsey & Llewelyn. the child of Hoel. the Excommunication of Owen Cyveilioc  at Bangor for not crusading – & the Priest detected by Madoc in digging a hole from his fathers grave thro into the church yard to eject his body, he having died under the censure of the church (from Giraldus  & your friend Mr Yorke.  ) this will tell well & Madoc shall carry over the bones of Owen to America. I shall then try my strength with Camoens  & Valerius Flaccus  (who was a man of far more genius) – in the embarkation scene. I can find a place for only one picture – & that will be taken from the Llanberris scenery – about the village – not the Lake. Dinevor is such mere English scenery that I have but hinted at it to contrast it with glens & mountains. but the Towey had beavers in the days of Giraldus  & I have shown Madoc one poor hermit one to put him in mind of his own countrymen.  I wish your brother  would colonize the Dee with some of these old Welshmen. there is something to me very affecting in the extirpation of so interesting an animal.
Hei mihi  that I have written no song! whether it be that Madoc has monopolized my whole stock of ideas – or that my gift is in singing songs not writing them – My feelings when I have been trying are either the contempt that would make “vile ballads” about of mockery, or a forefeeling of triumph ready to break out into prophetic hymns of victory. I begin to fear they will not attempt invasion.
This war with Portugal  affects me in both senses of the word. of course it will drive my Uncle to England & so somewhat influence my choice of an abiding place. it cuts off all supply of books reducing me to feed upon the charity of great new libraries – for I have no resource but in Lord Bute  – & it ruins the pleasantest hope I entertained – that of speedily crossing over to the land I love. God-a-mercy that a fellow  whelped in Corsica & living in France should interfere with the studies of a poor historian by the side of Lake Derwentwater!
God bless you. I am well & active both in body & mind – but hæret lateri!  yet I am the better for it – it seems to have connected me with the other world – given me new relations to it & loosened my roots here.
Friday night. 28 Oct. 1803.
* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M.P./ Wynnstay/
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: 20 Oct <28th > 1803
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 242-244. BACK