3763. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 December 1821

3763. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 16 December 1821⁠* 

Keswick 16 Dec. 1821

My dear Wynn

I am exceedingly glad to hear of your alliance with Mrs Company. [1]  It has indeed very long been my wish to see you in office because no man is more fit for it, & you have always had few principles & fewer feelings in common with opposition. When I heard the likelihood of your coming in some months ago I had supposed that you would probably be placed at the head of your old department, [2]  – in which case your name would soon have been inserted above mine in Cobbetts proscription list. You have a situation subject to none of the same difficulties & invidiousness as that; & the voluminous documents with which you must become acquainted will not be so appalling or irksome to you as they would be to most persons.

But I am sorry to lose the intended Cromwelliana. [3]  However I shall hope for them hereafter & in the most serviceable manner, – that is, in the way of comment before the book goes to press or while it is on its way thro it. In my odds & ends of time I am laying in stores with the full purpose of treating the subject at length, & doing it all the justice that can be done by unweariable diligence & the sincere desire of representing both men & actions in their true colours.

I believe I can obtain access to Lady Fanshaws Memoirs. [4]  I wish I could to those of (not by) the Countess of Pembroke, but they are in Lord Thanets possession, & therefore not very likely to be accessible to me. [5]  – Manchester left Memoirs which are quoted by Nalson. [6]  If they have not been printed (& I think they have not, or I should have seen some notice of them) – in whose possession are they likely to be? They would be very important.

Rushworth [7]  is very imperfect, & exemplifies the sin of omission in perfection, being by means of that single art, while he professes impartiality one of the most partial of compilers. – There were great men in those days. I have been very much interested in one who was not a great man, – but a very eloquent one, – Sir Edward Deering. [8]  I found the collection of his speeches at Lowther, for publishing which he was so tyrannically treated.

God bless you



* Address: [deletion and readdress in another hand] To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqre M.P./ Whitehall/ London <Avington/ Winchester>
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmarks: FREE/ 19 DE 19/ 1821; FREE/ 19 DE 19/ 1821
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 290–291. BACK

[1] Negotiations had started in June 1821 to bring the followers of Lord Grenville, including Wynn, over to the government. Wynn was their most prominent spokesman in the House of Commons and it was always intended he would receive a Cabinet post. However, Wynn wished to be Home Secretary or Secretary for Ireland and for there to be a wider reshuffle, including moves to include some Whigs. He did not finally take up the post he had initially been offered, President of the Board of Control, until January 1822. This meant he was ultimately responsible for the East India Company – ‘Mrs Company’. BACK

[2] Wynn had been Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 1806–1807. BACK

[3] Southey had just published his ‘Life of Cromwell’, Quarterly Review, 25 (July 1821), 279–347, and was thinking of expanding it into a book. This did not occur. BACK

[4] Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet (1608–1666; DNB), was a Royalist minister and poet, and later Ambassador to Portugal 1662–1666. His wife, Anne Fanshawe, née Harrison (1625–1680; DNB), wrote memoirs of her husband in 1676 for private family circulation. They were not published until 1829. BACK

[5] Lady Anne Clifford, 14th Baroness Clifford, Countess Dowager of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery (1590–1676; DNB). She wrote her autobiography, A Summary of the Records and a True Memorial of the Life of Me the Lady Anne Clifford (1653). Her later chronicles, biographies and autobiography were preserved in the manuscript ‘The Great Books of the Clifford Family’ (c. 1676). At this time the latter was owned by Lady Anne Clifford’s descendant, Sackville Tufton, 9th Earl of Thanet (1767–1825; DNB). A Whig, he had been Brougham’s main supporter in his election campaigns in Westmorland in 1818 and 1820, hence the probable unavailability of this material to Southey. BACK

[6] John Nalson (1637–1686; DNB), An Impartial Collection of the Great Affairs of State, from the Beginning of the Scotch Rebellion in the Year MDCXXXIX to the Murther of King Charles I (1682–1683), no. 1924 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester (1602–1671; DNB), was a Parliamentary commander and politician. The memoirs Southey refers to are in the British Library, Add. MS 15567, but are not by Manchester. BACK

[7] John Rushworth (1612–1690; DNB), Historical Collections of Private Passages of State (1659–1721). BACK

[8] Sir Edward Dering (1598–1644; DNB), antiquary and politician. He was a Parliamentarian, who switched to the Royalist side after his A Collection of Speeches Made by Sir E. Dering on Matters of Religion (1642) was ordered by parliament to be burnt, and he was briefly imprisoned on 4 February 1642. BACK

People mentioned

Cobbett, William (1763–1835) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)
Lowther estate (mentioned 1 time)