811. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 23 July 1803] *
My dear Wynn
You give me very great pleasure by saying you would gladly assist me in the legal department  if you thought yourself equal to the task – for that ‘if’ will be no insurmountable obstacle (do you remember poor Bunbury & your theme upon Pride?)
Old law is no uninteresting study – it is too closely connected with the history of manners. I shall go thro the laws of Ina  (if as I think, they have been printed) & make a compendium of them. it will be a good preliminary study to the Codigo Gothico  which I have been so long expecting from Madrid – the Partidas,  & the various codes that have sprung from the same Gothic root, the root of all that is valuable in European policy. to Hoel Dha  I must do the same propter Madocum  – & I rather expect some interesting result from a comparison of Celtic with Gothic jurisprudence. you know that, maugre Madoc, my prejudices are all Gothic, & that I bless the Romans first & the Saxons for redeeming the Britons from the original sin of carrotty hair – red freckled faces more broad than long, & brains of the same flat character.
Now as for being equal to the task – I should feel myself quite equal to stating out of Glanvil,  Fleta  &c what was the law in their time – but to know what has been lopt away & what is overgrown by young shoots, that is beyond me. but it certainly is in your power. Crede quod habeas et habes.  if you will read them as a lawyer, I shall, in pure book gluttony, look thro them for whatever is not law– & if any thing should escape us, it will hardly pass thro Turners sieve who will go thro them in his plan of going on with the history of England.
I thought you would like the plan of the Bibliotheca. it has made me quite happy in the future tense, & given a present value to all stray reading. all the dormant capital of knowledge in my cerebrum & cerebellum is about to be made productive. & my old stall gleanings seem to be sprouting out like potatoe-rinds, into an uncalculated return.
What became of the library of the Chandos family?  Warton  had heard that it contained a copy of the Antiocheis of Joseph of Exeter  – which poem – if that copy do not exist – is lost. I would give one of my ears to recover it.
God bless you
* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M.P./ To R Southey/
Worcester/ Worcester/ Bristol
Postmark: BRISTOL/ JUL 25 1803
Endorsement: July 23/ 1803
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 320-321 [where it is dated [23 July 1803]].
Dating note: Dated from the postmark and endorsement. BACK
 Southey had asked Wynn to assist him with the ‘Bibliotheca Britannica’, a plan for a chronological account of literature written in Britain, which the prospective publishers Longman and Rees abandoned in August 1803. BACK
 Ine, King of Wessex 688-726. He issued a code of laws in 694. This code was first translated in Aylett Sammes (1636-1679; DNB), Britannia Antiqua Illustrata (1676), no. 2405 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK