1123. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19 November 1805

1123. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19 November 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

The Monthly Review will have amused, if it did not provoke you. [1]  One does not often see malice stark-naked. It is done by some unsuccessful author who has had his deserts in some other review, & attributes it, right or wrong, to me. Stanier Clarke [2]  is most likely to be the man, – this is a mere guess founded on nothing more than that <quizzing> he has been so treated in the Monthly as to make it plain that he has friends there. – that <because> he would certainly know me to be his reviewer from xxxx <as> whatever displays any Portuguese knowledge is imputed to me, & because the Chickasaws – Choctaws & Catawbas follow in the same order in which they are to be found in my reviewal of his miserable book – where he would of course remember them. [3]  How many more than fifty times I have been reviewed I cannot tell, quite enough to have made a more irritable man callous. I am out of reach of any dirt which might be thrown at me.

I do not believe that Walter Scott draws. The house had no symptom of any such propensity. Mrs S. does & the sketch may be hers, or any body elses. I hoped to have got Dacre Castle [4]  for you, but have been sadly disappointed – Miss Barker who was to have done it having been unexpectedly called home by illness.

Have you the account of Jeremy Benthams bee-hive prison in a transmittable shape? [5]  if I could have it here it would be useful to Don Manuel, [6]  if not I must even do without it. I wish also much to see the French books you mention about England. It is a great evil to be out of reach of books, the commonest works of reference are as much out of my reach here as the rarest, & I have no person of whom to ask a common question if my memory be at fault. – A specimen of D. Manuel will soon be in Dapple’s hands – look at it as it reaches him, & tell me when I get out of my depth, – for touching upon all subjects I shall sometimes make blunders more than are desired. Do not let the secret transpire, – the work itself will not betray me. [7]  It goes to London for hints &c from Rickman, Duppa & Dapple & yourself.

The new Joan of Arc is infamously misprinted. [8]  It shall be sent you when certain cancels are inserted. The emendations will not be visible without comparison & that trouble is by no means worth taking. I have shortened the Retrospect & the Hymen &tc to fill up the place of the Vision, [9]  & shall add the translation of Coleridges Greek ode [10]  & two or three other short pieces of little value – [11] 

God bless you


Wednesday 19. Nov. 1805.


* Address: To C W Williams Wynn Esqr M. P./ Lincolns Inn/ London
Postmark: FREE/ NOV 23/ 1805
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Ferriar (1761–1815; DNB), a Scottish physician who practised medicine in Manchester, often contributed articles to the Monthly Review, including this one on Southey’s Madoc (1805). See Monthly Review (October 1805), n.s. 48, 113–122. BACK

[2] James Stanier Clarke (1765?–1834; DNB), Church of England clergyman and author of several books on naval themes. BACK

[3] Southey reviewed Clarke’s Progress of Maritime Discovery, from the Earliest Period to the Close of the Eighteenth Century, Forming an Extensive System of Hydrography (1803), in the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 12–20. BACK

[4] Dacre Castle, Cumbria, is a peel tower built in the 14th century for protection against the Scots. Southey expressed a desire to get a drawing of this building for Wynn, in letter 1112 of this edition. BACK

[5] Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832; DNB), philosopher, jurist, and reformer, wrote a series of letters during 1786, entitled Panopticon: or, the Inspection-House, which were sent to London, but not published until 1791. In them Bentham laid out his plans for a Panopticon prison scheme. The scheme was discussed in parliament, and a bill passed in 1794 providing for the building of a penitentiary at Battersea, London. In 1798, with the building delayed, a committee of the House of Commons issued a favourable report on Bentham’s scheme. The discussions are reported in the Journals of the House of Commons, XLIV, 633–634. Southey had previously asked Rickman if he could supply this; see Southey to John Rickman, 18 May 1805, Letter 1067. BACK

[6] Though Southey does not mention Bentham or the Panopticon specifically, he discusses Chester prison as an example of a new prison (built in 1798) employing the concept and design of perpetual surveillance in Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella: Translated from the Spanish, 3 vols (London, 1807), II, pp. 160–162. BACK

[7] Southey wanted to preserve his anonymity as the author of this book because he believed negative reviews by his enemies affected sales of his work. BACK

[8] The third edition of Joan of Arc was published in 1806. BACK

[9] With the ‘Vision of the Maid of Orleans’ (originally published in the second volume of Poems (1799)) now printed at the end of the 1806 edition of Joan of Arc, Southey was planning to replace it in the new 1806 edition of Poems by pieces first published in his and Robert Lovell’s joint collection Poems (1795), ‘The Retrospect’ and ‘To Hymen’. In the event, the poems brought into the 1806 edition to make up for the removal of the ‘Vision’ were, ‘Translation of a Greek Ode on Astronomy, written for the prize at Cambridge, 1793’ (pp. 3–9); ‘The Retrospect’ (pp. 13–22); ‘To Hymen’ (pp. 25–39); ‘Remembrance’ (pp. 40–43); ‘To Recovery’ (pp. 49–51); ‘Youth and Age’ (pp. 52–53); ‘The Traveller’s Return’ (pp. 54–55); ‘Autumn’ (pp. 56–58); ‘The Destruction of Jerusalem’ (pp. 59–62); ‘The Spanish Armada’ (pp. 63–66); ‘St Bartholomew’s Day’ (pp. 67–69); ‘To a Bee’ (pp. 74–75); ‘Metrical Letter’, pp. 76–79. For the alterations, see Robert Southey: Poetical Works 1793–1810, gen. ed. Lynda Pratt, 5 vols (London, 2004), I. BACK

[10] In 1793, at Cambridge University, Coleridge wrote a Greek Ode on Astronomy for a prize. Southey translated the ode and published the translation in The Morning Post, 28 November 1801; he included it in Poems, 2 vols (London, 1806), vol. II, pp. 1–9, Minor Poems (1815, 1823), and in his 1837–1838 Poetical Works. Collected by Himself, 10 vols (London). BACK

[11] See note 9. BACK