156. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 24 May 1796

156. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 24 May 1796 ⁠* 

direct to Cottles.

May 24th. 1796.

Can you not spare a few xxxxx <days> & accompany Bedford to Bristol? I will get you a bed as near us as possible. it is nearly two years since we seperated at Oxford. two years! certainly the most important of my life.

I am now at lodgings with my Edith. the reliance that I can place on my own application renders me little anxious for the future — & for the present I can live like a silkworm by spinning my own brains. have I published too hastily? — remember that Virgil [1]  in the spirit of poetical prophecy gives to Fames the epithet of malesuada.

I was very much shocked by hearing of Lovells death. tho he had sunk much in my esteem. Edith sat up with him three nights tho the Physicians repeatedly warned her of her danger. it was a putrid fever killd him. this was while I was detained for a wind at Lisbon! short sighted that we are — I regretted the delay at the time!

Come Wynn — & see how we are settled. can you enjoy porter as we have done at Westminster? Mr Pitt has amerced the middle class of their wine [2]  — & luckily I have acquired a taste for malt liquors by being so long without them.

I begin tomorrow to breakfast in my college tea cups. do you remember them? I have a regard for such “mute chroniclers” [3]  of distant days. have you forgot our early walk among the rocks here? & the ships going out? ah Wynn what very different animals were you & I then! the heaviest evil I ever knew then was returning to school after the holydays — & all I had to dread — that beast Forester. [4] 

farewell. I am at my old employments — & shall live six months upon


written during a short residence in

Spain & Portugal



they will contain much anecdote & some new information. of politics the less the better. aristocracy has behaved with liberality to Joan of Arc — & if they will favour me by forgetting that I have ever meddled too much with public concerns — I will take care not to awaken their memories.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Charles Watkin Williams Wynn Esqr/ No 5 Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmark: BMA/ 27/ 96
Endorsement: Southey/ May 24/ 1796
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections From the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 29–30. BACK

[1] Virgil (70–19 BC), Aeneid, Book 6, line 276. The Latin translates as ‘crime-provoking Hunger’. BACK

[2] A reference to the imposition of a 6d tax per bottle of wine by the Prime Minister William Pitt, the Younger (1759–1806; DNB). BACK

[3] Quotation unidentified; Southey could possibly be citing a letter sent to him by Grosvenor Charles Bedford which has not survived. BACK

[4] William Forester (d. 1794), who was educated at Westminster School (adm. 1782) and later entered the army, dying of yellow fever during the St Domingo expedition of 1794. Southey did not like Forester, accusing him of bullying and of forcing him to write Latin verses on his behalf (always making sure that the verses were hopeless enough to pass as Forester’s work). BACK

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