2918. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 14 February 1817
2918. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 14 February 1817*
My dear Wynn
Some person has sent me the M Chronicle with an advertisement of Wat Tyler by R Southey, – & a paragraph concerning it.  – The facts are these, & I want your advice upon the matter. In xx I wrote this piece (for mine I suppose it is) in the winter of 1794, & poor Lovell took a copy to London which he put into Ridgeways hands (then in Newgate) – Ridgeway & Simmonds said they would publish it.  – And there it ended, – they X I suppose thought better of it, – & from that hour till the present I never heard of the thing & scarcely ever thought of it, – except that in 1796 or 7 I began to remodel it, with the notion of making it good for something, – & transplanted from it a solitary line into Madoc –
Ridgeway must have acted like a rascal, – which perhaps may be only in his vocation. But Sherwood Neely & Jones are the publishers.  Ought I in this case to obtain an injunction in Chancery? – If you think so, inclose this letter in a to xxxx Turner for him, & desire him to act for me. His direction is Red Lion Square.
There are few persons whom a thing of this kind would affect so little. For not to mention that one who has a grief at heart  is very little sensible of a scratch upon his skin, I am not more ashamed of any errors which I committed in the 20th year of my age, than I was then of having misbehaved upon my nurses lap in infancy.
If it be expedient, as I suppose it is, to obtain an injunction, no time must be lost. My distance from London is in favour of the rascally publisher – who has not ventured to advertise it till it was ready, in apprehension of this step. – I should like to make him a loser by his rascality, – & it would xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx if serve him right if he were prosecuted for sedition.
God bless you my dear Wynn
yrs as ever
14 Feby. 1817.
I had forgotten to mention that nothing was ever paid for the MS. & thus a verbal bargain for a share of the profits might perhaps at this distance of time have justified Ridgeway in the publication, – it cannot apply to the present booksellers.
 ‘A curious dramatic Poem, entitled Wat Tyler, by Mr. SOUTHEY, is just published’, Morning Chronicle, 12 February 1817. BACK
 Southey’s Jacobin drama Wat Tyler, which he had written in 1794 and sent to James Ridgway (1755–1838), and Henry Symonds (1741–1816), radical booksellers, for publication; see Robert Southey to Edith Fricker, [c. 12 January 1795], The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part One, Letter 123. Ridgway and Symonds did not publish it and it remained in manuscript until a pirated publication, designed to embarrass the now anti-Jacobin Southey, appeared in 1817. Having taken advice from Wynn and Turner, Southey launched a suit in Chancery so as to gain an injunction suppressing the publication, on the grounds that it breached his copyright. BACK
 The adapted version of these lines appears in Southey’s Madoc (1805), Part One, Book 3, lines 220–221. BACK
 The firm of William Sherwood (1776–1837), Samuel Dunbar Neely (dates unknown) and Robert Jones (dates unknown). BACK