2683. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 December 1815

2683. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 December 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

Your letter vexes me, – tho it has not been altogether unexpected. Excuse me to the Committee, – & pro tempore [1]  excuse me to yourself. I shall not hold myself excused till I have proved to you at least that this failure has not been for want of will. An Inscription I will write if Minerva [2]  will ever be willing, – & call it ‘intended for’ – instead of “engraved on” the Wynnstay vase. [3]  It is hopeless to cudgell my poor brains too: they are working so hard xxxxxxx that they do not deserve rough usage.

Did I tell you that I had purchased the Acta Sanctorum? [4]  Sing O be joyful [5]  with me, for I have intelligence by this post that they are arrived in London. – I have, tho with little hope, addressed a memorial to I know not what department, praying to be exempted from the enormous duty, – which is not less than fifteen pence per pound weight, – upon fifty two thick folios! [6] Herries will help me all he can, but has little expectation of success. There was however no harm in making the attempt, & I have urged as a precedent that Artists are allowed an exemption for works of art designed for their own collections. – This direct & most oppressive tax upon literature would surely be repealed if it were properly represented in Parliament.

I forgot to tell you that there is an excuse for the Convention of Cintra [7]  interpolated in the xxxx part of my paper in the Quarterly, in those sheets which I did not see before the number was published. [8]  It is in xxx direct opposition to my own expressed feeling upon the subject; – & I shall insist upon it that no insertion hereafter be ever made in any paper of mine, till it has been submitted to my approbation, – otherwise I will withdraw from the Review.

Barrow has two articles in this number. [9]  That upon the rascally Frenchman is Crokers. [10]  Of the rest I know nothing.

God bless you


Saturday 16 Dec. 1815.


* Address: [readdressed in another hand] To C W Williams Wynn Esqre M.P./ Wynnstay <Acton Park>/ Wrexham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298; RUABON
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘for the time being’. BACK

[2] Minerva, Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts and magic. BACK

[3] A committee set up by Wynn’s fellow Welshmen to commission a huge silver vase to commemorate the safe return from the battle of Waterloo (18 July 1815) of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. Southey had been asked to write an inscription to be engraved on the vase, but had failed to do so; see Southey to Charles Watkin William Wynn, 5 September 1815 (Letter 2652) and [c. 7 November 1815] (Letter 2668). BACK

[4] Southey thought he had bought a complete set of the Acta Sanctorum but received instead the 6 volume edition of 1783–1794, no. 152 in the sale catalogue of his library. He later acquired the 52 volume edition, no. 207 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] Psalm 100, line 1. BACK

[6] The memorial had been sent to Bedford; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 8 December 1815, Letter 2678. BACK

[7] Under the terms of the Convention of Cintra (30 August 1808) the defeated French were allowed to evacuate their troops from Portugal. BACK

[8] Southey was unhappy with changes made by Croker, at the instigation of the Duke of Wellington, to his review of Eustache-Auguste Carel (1788–1836), Précis Historique de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1808 à 1814 (1815); Jean Sarrazin (1770–1848), Histoire de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1807 à 1814 (1814); General View of the Political State of France, and of the Government of Louis XVIII (1815); An Answer to the Calumniators of Louis XVIII (1815); Official Accounts of the Battle of Waterloo (1815); Lieutenant-General W. A. Scott (dates unknown), Battle of Waterloo (1815), Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. See Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 November 1815 (Letter 2670), Southey to John Murray, [22 November 1815] (Letter 2671) and, for the fullest surviving account of events, Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 15 December 1815 (Letter 2682). In particular, he objected to the interpolation of a section praising Wellington’s reaction to the Convention as ‘a presage of [his] … extraordinary military foresight’; Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 476. BACK

[9] John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB). His reviews were: John Campbell (1766–1840; DNB), Travels in South Africa, Undertaken at the Request of the Missionary Society (1815), Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 309–340; and David Porter (1780–1843), Journal of a Cruize made to the Pacific Ocean (1815), Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 352–383. BACK

[10] Croker had reviewed René Martin Pillet (1762–1816), L’Angleterre, vue à Londres et dans ses Provinces (1815), Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 442–448. Pillet, a former prisoner of war, provided a far from flattering account of England. BACK

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