3325. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 25 June 1819]

3325. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 25 June 1819] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

The Lord Chancellor did justice to you, whatever he did to your Bill. [1]  – Another session & you will carry your object. It is a melancholy reflection that we have so little of that charity in Protestant Countries which the Roman Catholics can draw upon to any amount. It exists as strongly in individuals, – but there is no regular channel in which it can act. And yet how greatly is it wanted in prisons, & hospitals, & mad houses! And if it were possible to give some of our enthusiasts that direction, many of them would do much good who would otherwise be doing no little evil. You will see that I scatter some good seeds upon this subject in the Life of Wesley, [2]  – in hope that they may not perish by the way side.

I am not sorry to see that Walter of the Times is scoundrel enough to betray some of those political men who with who formerly sent articles to his paper. [3]  It is well that such men should thus proclaim their own rascality. & may deter members from committing themselves with the vilest breed of men in existence, – for generally speaking, <such> I believe the newspaper men to be. – With regard to the Times in particular I am <not> sure whether I ever told you a fact which will prove pretty clearly how much Walter cares about th parties or principles. No longer ago than 1817, during the reign of Wat Tyler, an application was made to me to take the management of that paper. [4]  The proposal was one which would have put me in immediate possession of a large income, secured me a share in the paper, & have enabled me in a few years to have realized a fair fortune, – but of course it was rejected without a moments hesitation.

My Brazil [5]  is finished Δοξα τω Θεω. [6] The printer has about three weeks work to perform & in about five you will receive it.

God bless you



* MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Dating from content; references to Wynn’s Bill and Southey’s History of Brazil suggest this letter was written c. 25 June 1819. BACK

[1] Wynn’s Madhouses Regulation Bill was defeated in the House of Lords on 24 June 1819. Its main opponent was John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon (1751–1838; DNB), Lord Chancellor 1801–1806, 1807–1827. His determined opposition to legislation in this field meant that no further regulation of asylums was passed until 1828. In his speech against the Bill, Eldon complimented Wynn by stating: ‘This bill came from the other house of parliament, and so much did he respect the individual with whom it originated, that nothing would induce him to oppose it, if he did not feel himself bound to do so’, The Times, 25 June 1819. BACK

[2] Southey’s The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism, 2 vols (London, 1820), II, p. 531: ‘If they [Methodists] had instituted societies to discharge such painful offices of humanity as are performed by the Soeurs de la Charité in France, and by the Beguines of Brabant and Flanders, the good which they might have effected would have been duly appreciated and rewarded by public opinion.’ BACK

[3] John Walter II (1776–1847; DNB), variously owner, manager and editor of The Times 1803–1847. BACK

[4] See Southey to Henry Crabb Robinson, 13 March 1817, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Five, Letter 2939. This was at the height of the furore over the unauthorised publication of Southey’s Wat Tyler (1817). BACK

[5] Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[6] ‘Thanks to God’. BACK

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