467. Robert Southey to Daniel Stuart, 24 December 1799

467. Robert Southey to Daniel Stuart, 24 December 1799 ⁠* 

Frances de Barry.

a Monoscenic Drama. the circumstances historical. [1] 


Dear Scene the ramparts of Leu<au>cate. [2]  Frances De Barry. [3]  Herald. de Loupian [4] 

Frances—          Bid here the Captains of the garrison.
And the chief Citizens –

Herald – My errand Lady
Is for your private ear.

Frances. – Reserve it therefore –
I have no private ear! the day your craft
Entrapt De Barry, [5]  – whom by courage never
Ye had subdued, that day did I become
My husbands image here, like him the servant
Of France, & faithful to my trust like him.

Herald.—            Your husbands –

Frances – Peace! anon & thou shalt have
Thy scope of speech.

(Enter Captains &c–)
Now Herald, do thine errand.

Herald.                Thus say the Leaders of the League: [6]  their troops
Hem in Laucate; they hold the country round, –
The Tyrant [7]  daily weakening, daily prest
Closer & closer by their righteous arm,
Desperate himself of safety, can afford
No succour here. resistance boots not here,
Your town perforce must fall. yet are the League
Mindful of mercy, rightly as befits
The champions of the church, & like the church
By wholesome terror as by promised grace
Would make you wise to safety. yield the town
And ransomless your husband shall be free.
But if, relying on deceitful hopes
Lady! & obstinate in waste of blood,
Still you provoke their vengeance, my return
Condemns De Barry. yonder he is bound
Waiting the event – & ye shall see him die
The victim of your crime.

Frances. – Ye turn your eyes,
Defenders of Laucate! as tho in doubt
Towards me! – look – my husband from his prison
Sent me this handkerchief with charcoal traced –
“Keep the town well” – say to De Barry, Herald,
His wife received the token. if he dies,
I have a womans feelings: – but his honour –
That is beyond your power, & in my grief
There will be consolation.

Herald –
This – your answer?

Captain—            Yet more. ye see the hostage in our hands power
By Montmorency [8]  sent, De Barrys pledge
Of safety. as a noble gentleman
His image hath been here.
Hath he been guarded here.

De Loupian.
with all indulgence
Never was foe by foe, more honourably

Captain. – Tell the League his life depends
Upon De Barry –
(Exit Herald)

Frances to De Loupian. Think you they will act
Their threatening?

De Loupian – As a soldier I must deem
The crime impossible. but as my life
Hangs on the issue – Lady I have fears.
But – look! – what stir is yonder in the camp? –
Oh base & bloody men!

Frances – It is my husband!

De Loupian.—  He kneels – as tho for death – !

Frances viels her face –

Captain – your life De Loupian
Is in the event.

(a gun is heard.)

De Loupian. Then Christ have mercy on me! –
That was De Barrys death.

many voices – Away with him –
Away with him – vengeance – away with him –

Frances, uncovering her face.
Hold Frenchmen! unpolluted by a crime,
Unspotted by in his honour, hath my husband
Died in his countrys cause. no cruelty
No act of impotent revenge shall stain
The memory of his fate. shall I revenge
In innocent blood the life that by a treason
I would not save? – De Loupian – thou art safe!
Return to Montmorency, say to him
De Barrys xxx widow will defend Laucate.


My dear Sir.

I received the bill – as you have probably heard by Coleridge. my attention will be directed hereafter to works of length, but any pieces which I may chance to write of suitable extent, I will not fail to transmit to you. [9] 

believe me yrs truly

R Southey

Dec. 24. 1799.


* Address: To/ Mr Stuart/ 335. Strand/ London/ Single
Postmark: B/ DEC 25/ 99
Endorsement: Southey/ Southey Poems/ Southey
MS: British Library, Add MS 34046. AL; 4p.
Previously published: Letters from the Lake Poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, to Daniel Stuart (London, 1889), pp. 444–448. BACK

[1] Not published in the Morning Post or elsewhere. It was set in France in 1590, when a civil war was raging between the partisans of Henry IV (1553–1610; King of France, 1589–1610) and the Catholic League, who wished to prevent Henry IV, who was a Protestant, consolidating his rule. BACK

[2] A castle on the south coast of France. BACK

[3] Francoise de Cezelly (1558–1614). In 1577 she married Jean-Antoine Bourcier de Barry de Saint Aunez (d. 1590). In the absence of her husband, she held the castle at Leucate for the forces of Henry IV. BACK

[4] Claude Faucon de Loupian (1536–1601), French politician, held as a hostage in the castle at Leucate. BACK

[5] Jean-Antoine Bourcier de Barry de Saint Aunez, local commander of forces loyal to Henry IV. Taken prisoner at Narbonne by the Catholic League. BACK

[6] The Catholic League, an organisation founded in 1576; fighting to prevent Henry IV enforcing his claim as King of France. BACK

[7] Henry IV, King of France. BACK

[8] Henri I de Montmorency-Damville (1534–1614), one of the most powerful landowners in southern France and a moderate supporter of the Catholic League. BACK

[9] Southey’s sonnet, ‘Absence’, Morning Post, 20 December 1799, was the last of his regular contributions to the newspaper. He did not contribute another poem until ‘O Thou Moor of Moreria’, Morning Post, 18 September 1801. BACK

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