1276. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [mid-February 1807]

1276. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [mid-February 1807] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

Since the restoration of the Imperial Abbot to the throne of the Franks, [1]  & of my worthy tho unknown friend Mr Ley to his official powers – I have instructed D Manuel not to call upon you on his way up to the mountains. [2]  I still however send him to you on his way to the Printers, for two reasons, – because it is one thing to ask a frank of the Abbot, & another to direct under cover to him, – & because it is a fit thing that his Majestys Under Secretary of State should see all the manuscript treason which may be going on in manuscript, but that honourable Gentleman is requested to bear in mind – that all the treason by implication which can be suspected herein is said in Spain of England, & in England of Spain, & so it cannot be treason at all – at all –

This is a very miscellaneous cargo, & the dullest part it – that is the account of Animal Magnetism [3]  – is the most extraordinary. That & the accounts of Swedenborgianism & of Joanna Southcott  [4]  which are yet to come will show you that nothing is too monstrous to find believers in this enlightened age.

I have written one letter upon occasion of Despards conspiracy [5]  – with which – if you liked the spirit of that upon the Manufacturing System – you will be well pleased. One other with a political complection, is to be written upon the breaking out of war – which will I am quite sure please you – whatever the others may do.

The recapture of B. Ayres [6]  may teach both the people & the Government something which it is well they should know. The people – that it is ill done to set about rewarding Officers for acting without orders – the government if they do not already know it, that the way for England to profit by S America, is not by attempting to conquer it, but by making it independent, – in which case we derive every possible advantage which can be derived from it, without risque, without expence, & without bloodshed, & without the certainty of ultimate expulsion, – for certain that might be demonstrated to be.

I will not express any joy for Bonapartes defeat till it is beyond a doubt. [7]  That his career must have an end I firmly believe. We shall yet have to say of the defeat of the French what I well remember applying to their first victories, –

Ille justitiam confirmavere triumphe,

Praesentes docuere deos [8] 


I have just received yours with the inclosure in time before this packet was made up –

Poor Grosvenor indeed – he wrote to me the other day rejoicing in the prospect of Horaces recovery – which seems to me a thing not to be rejoiced in. Horace has not been sane for some years – as Elmsley knows, & I know [9]  –. Grosvenors own health seems to me in an alarming state – for liver complaints are rarely eradicated. The old mans imprudence is as mysterious as it is ruinous.

You seem to enjoy your Pappaship as you ought to do, [10]  – I could write a volume about my son already, if it were <only> to explain the titles which I have given him in their serious relations –

God bless you



* MS: National Library of Wales MS 4813D (undated letters). ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Charles Abbot, Speaker of the House of Commons and thereby a possessor of franking privileges; Rickman was his secretary. BACK

[2] Southey was arranging a way of mailing without charge the manuscript of Letters from England by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella. Translated from the Spanish (1807). BACK

[3] Letters from England included an account of Mesmerism in England. BACK

[4] Letters from England included accounts of the English followers of the religious mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) and the self-proclaimed prophet Joanna Southcott. BACK

[5] Edward Marcus Despard (1751–1803; DNB) an Irish-born British colonel whose involvement in radical politics led to his imprisonment without trial, in the late 1790s, and, in late 1802, to his being named by informers as a member of a conspiracy to seize the Tower of London and Bank of England and to assassinate the king. He was executed for treason. BACK

[6] In June 1806, with Spain, the colonial master of South America, under French sway and Britain’s enemy, a force under Admiral Sir Home Riggs Popham (1762–1820; DNB) and William Carr Beresford (1768–1856; DNB), occupied Buenos Aires. The British forces were pushed back by the creoles in December 1806. BACK

[7] On 7–8 February 1807, in eastern Prussia, Napoleon’s Grande Armée failed conclusively to destroy a Russian army at the Battle of Eylau. Although neither side was defeated, the French nevertheless lost somewhere between 10000 and 15000 men. BACK

[8] Lines 98 and 99 from Claudian’s (c. 370–404 AD), panegyric for the emperor Honorius Augustus (384–423 AD) (Claudian, Carmina Maiora 8): ‘they have confirmed justice with their triumph and have shown that the gods are present’. BACK

[9] On Horace, see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 2 February 1807 (Letter 1270) and Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 15 February [1807] (Letter 1277). BACK

[10] Wynn’s wife, Mary, had given birth to their first child, Charlotte Williams-Wynn (1807–1869; DNB) in January. BACK

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