342. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [started before and continued on] 15 August [1798]

342. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [started before and continued on] 15 August [1798] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

You will I think be somewhat amused at this copy of a let note from a West Country Farmers daughter. it is genuine I assure you.

Dear Miss

The energy of the races prompts me to assure you that my request is forbidden, the idea of which I had awkwardly nourished, notwithstanding my propensity to reserve. Mr T will be there. let me with confidence assure you that him & brothers will be very happy to meet you & brothers. Us girls cannot go for reasons. the attention of the cows claims our assistance in the evening.

unalterably yours

is it not admirable?

I have seen myself Bedfordized [1]  & it has been a subject of much amusement. Holcrofts [2]  likeness is admirably preserved. I know not what poor Lamb  [3]  has done to be croaking there. what I think the worst part of the Anti Jacobine abuse is the lumping together men of such opposite principles. this was stupid. We should have all been welcoming the Director not the Theophilanthrope. [4]  The conductors of the Anti Jacobine will have much <to> answer for in thus inflaming the xxxxx animosities of this country. they are labouring to produce the deadly hatred of Irish faction — perhaps to produce the same end. Such an address as you mention might probably be of great use — that I could assist you in it is less certain. I do not feel myself at all calculated for any thing that requires methodical reasoning — & tho you & I should agree in the main object of the pamphlet, our opinions are at root different. The old systems of government I think must fall; but in this country the immediate danger is on the other hand, from an unconstitutional & unlimited power. Burleigh [5]  saw how a Parliament might be employed against the people, & Montesquieu [6]  prophesied the fall of English Liberty when the Legislature should become corrupt. you will not agree with me in thinking his prophecy fulfilled.

Violent men there undoubtedly are among the Democrats as they are always called. but is there any one among them whom the Ministerialists will allow to be moderate? the Anti-Jacobine certainly speaks the sentiments of government.

Heywood’s Hierarchie [7]  is a most lamentable poem but the notes are very amusing. I fancy it is in most old libraries. its ballad matter I do not see any thing there that promises well for ballads. there are some fine Arabic traditions that would make noble poems. I was about to write one upon the Garden of Irem. [8]  the city & garden still exist in the desarts invisibly — & one man only has seen them. this is the tradition – & I had made it the groundwork of what I thought a very fine story. but it seemed too great for a poem of 3 or 400 lines

I do not much like Don Carlos. [9]  it is by far the worst of Schillers plays.

Hereford. Aug. 15.

We came here yesterday on a visit, for some fortnight or three weeks. direct at Mr Thomas’s. St Palaye [10]  arrived before I left Bristol — but I had not time to examine it.

yrs affectionately

R. Southey.


* Address: [deletions and readdress in another hand] To/ C. W. Williams Wynn Esqr/ Wynnstay/ near Wrexham/ Denbighshire/ <Messrs Armitts Dublin>
Postmark: AU/ 22/ 98
Endorsement: August 15 1798
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 344–346 [in part]. BACK

[1] i.e. turned into an ass. Southey had been thus caricatured in James Gillray (1757–1815; DNB), ‘The New Morality’, Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, 1 (1798), between 114 and 115. BACK

[2] Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809; DNB) had also been satirised in Gillray’s cartoon. BACK

[3] Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd had been portrayed by Gillray as frog and toad, though it was unclear which was which. BACK

[4] Louis Marie de la Revelliere-Lepeaux (1753–1824), leading member of the five-man Directory that was the supreme executive power in France 1795–1799 and chief promoter of the deist religion of Theophilanthropy. The verse accompanying the Anti-Jacobin cartoon had concentrated on presenting the radical writers as enthusiasts for Theophilanthropy. BACK

[5] William Cecil, Lord Burleigh (1521–1598; DNB). His saying that ‘England could never be undone, unless by parliaments’, was also attributed to another Elizabethan statesman, Francis Bacon (1561–1626; DNB). BACK

[6] Southey is adapting sentiments expressed in Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu (1689–1755), De L’Esprit des Loix (1748), Book XI, chapter 6. BACK

[7] Thomas Heywood (c. 1573–1641; DNB), The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels (1635). Despite Southey’s disclaimer, he had based his ballads ‘Donica’ and ‘Rudiger’, in Poems (Bristol, 1797), pp. [161]–186, on material in Heywood’s notes. BACK

[8] In Arabian legend, an earthly paradise, supposedly planted by the Genii. Southey incorporated the Garden of Irem into Thalaba the Destroyer, 2 vols (London, 1801), I, pp. 7–63. BACK

[9] Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805), Don Carlos (1787). BACK

[10] Jean-Baptiste de la Curne de Sainte-Pelaye (1697–1782), Memoirs of Ancient Chivalry. To which are added, the Anecdotes of the Times, from the Romance Writers and Historians of those Ages (1774). BACK

People mentioned

Lamb, Charles (1775–1834) (mentioned 1 time)