422. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 July 1799

422. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 July 1799 ⁠* 

Saturday July 13. 99.

My dear Wynn

I received yours this morning – & write hastily to acknowledge it.

The allusion to Alibeg [1]  shall come out – I hardly know how it came in – it seemed to have a resemblance & yet has none. tocsin shall go if I can find a better word – but its reference to the French Revolution seems to appropriate it to that place. Misanthropy is so much the best personification I ever made, & so much the feeling with which I wrote the poem, that it must stay. it is in my own mind one of the most original passages I ever conceived. [2] 

You will be pleased to hear that yesterday I finished Madoc – & as all poems should it rises in interest till the conclusion.

I have been breathing a newly discovered gas [3]  which produces the most extraordinary effects. laughter, a delightful sensation in every limb – in every part of the body – to the very teeth, & increased strength with no after relaxation. it is a high pleasure for which language has no name, & which can be estimated by no known feeling. I took some this morning & still feel increased strength & spirits.

Edith is & has been exceedingly unwell. she is taking the strongest tonics, & is to bathe. We leave Bristol I believe on Monday week – & I hope soon to give you a good account of Queen Mary. [4] 

God bless you –

yrs truly

R Southey.


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ Shrewsbury
Postmark: BRISTOL/ JUL 15 99
Endorsement: July 13/ 99
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] ‘Hymn to the Penates’ in Poems (Bristol, 1797), p. 205 contained a reference to a Persian favourite who preferred his former simple life as a shepherd to the Court. This was a much-published story in the eighteenth century, about a mythical Persian visier called Alibeg. It derived from the fables of the French clergyman and writer, Francois de Salignac de La Mothe-Fenelon (1651–1715). For an English translation, see Twenty-Seven Moral Tales and Fables (London, 1729), pp. 69–84. Southey removed this passage in the 1799 third edition of his Poems. BACK

[2] The paragraph deals with proposed changes to ‘Hymn to the Penates’, which Southey was revising for the third edition of his Poems (1797). Southey replaced the word ‘tocsin’, with ‘alarm’, Poems, 2 vols (Bristol, 1799), I, p. 196, but kept the personification of Misanthropy, pp. 198–199. BACK

[3] Nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas’. BACK

[4] 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

People mentioned

Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)