388. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 March 1799

388. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 March 1799 ⁠* 

March 13. 99.

My dear Wynn

I was heartily rejoiced at your Uncles & Brothers escape. [1]  it never occurred to me till your letter arrived that you might be mistaken for your brother. − of Ediths brother we have no account − & I have little hope. − he was bound from Porto to Dublin & off both coasts many vessels have been wrecked. What a life is a Sailors!

I congratulate you on vacating Old Sarum [2]  for a more respectable seat − & the pauper [3]  also is to be congratulated − as I suppose he will cram another thirty pounds for your successor.

As you are in Wales I have not sent my Poems [4]  to London for you. would you have them sent by way of Shrewsbury with the same directions as this Letter?

In the summer I must go [MS torn] to the sea & should on all accounts prefer the coast of N[MS torn] the distance, for which reason I think rather of [MS torn] become a very weather-cock & feel these easte[MS torn] sickly vegetable. I wish the coast of Arion [5]  & [MS torn] heights were nearer. mountain exercise & sea [MS torn] brace me again − but at present I sadly want bracing.

The first act of Queen Mary [6]  puzzles me. I have the beginning − but the succeeding scenes do not occur to please me.

Pray have you seen in the Courier a song for the Prince of Wales Catch Club by Robert Southey Esq.! [7]  there may be a maker of songs undoubtedly by that name, but I wish he would contrive to distinguish himself from me, who am not a maker of songs.

What think you of St Januarias adopting the new principles. [8]  do you think the Archbishops have not figured very respectably in this age of revolution.

We are growling at the Income Bill. it is better than the triple assessment − but framed with almost inconceivable absurdity. [9]  if you & I could but change eyes how differently would the prospect [MS torn] alike to both. the farmers like the bill for it does not fall [MS torn]mmercial men growl the most, & those who on [MS torn]ectably . it is particularly hard on those who from [MS torn]y be saving something for a family. what will be [MS torn]ures? there is need to fast & pray for a few [MS torn] illumination to keep the people in good humour.

God bless you −

yrs affectionately

R Southey


* MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Wynn’s older brother, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1772–1840; DNB), and uncle, Thomas Grenville (1755–1846), had survived the shipwreck of the Proserpine off Heligoland on 31 January 1799. BACK

[2] Wynn had been returned unopposed as MP for Montgomeryshire on 14 March 1799. He had previously represented the notorious rotten borough of Old Sarum. BACK

[3] In his ‘Inscription. For a Monument at Old Sarum’, Morning Post, 1 May 1799, Southey claimed that the town only contained one old pauper, who had the right to return two MPs. In fact, Old Sarum had no inhabitants at all and the handful of electors were all non-resident. BACK

[4] Poems (1799). BACK

[5] Arion was a legendary Greek musician saved by dolphins when he jumped into the sea to avoid being murdered by his ship’s crew. Southey could, therefore, be referring to the coast of western Greece, the site of the story. BACK

[6] Southey’s proposed tragedy, set during the reign of Mary I (1516–1558; reigned 1553–1558; DNB). See Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, pp. 190–192. BACK

[7] ‘On a Golden Cup, with Embossed Figures, Dedicated to the God of Mirth by the Harmonic Club’, Courier, 11 March 1799. BACK

[8] The reference is obscure. St Januarius (d. c. 305?), Bishop of Benevento and martyr, was the patron saint of Naples, which had become a French client-republic in January 1799. A popular conservative uprising followed, directed by Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo (1744–1827). Southey may be referring to these events. BACK

[9] Income tax had been announced at the rate of 10% for incomes over £200 pa in December 1798. This replaced the ‘Triple Assessment’ of 1798, which had increased existing taxes on houses, carriages etc. by multiples of between two and five, depending on taxpayers’ wealth. BACK

People mentioned

Fricker, George (1785–1813) (mentioned 1 time)