704. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [6 August 1802]

704. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [6 August 1802] ⁠* 


I know the book upon Spanish poetry. [1]  it is by Dillon. the same who compiled a large quarto upon Spain from Campomanes Ponce & Bowles. [2]  the four heads are badly copied from a selection in nine volumes – the Parnaso Español. [3]  it is a meagre book, written with little knowledge. the best part is that upon Ausias March [4]  & the poets of his ages – of whom I as yet know nothing for want of materials, having only an imperfect Spanish translation from Marchs Valencian, by George of Montemayor. [5] 

Your Cid [6]  is almost finished – & the life will be as compleat as I can make it from my present documents. I believe I have the greatest part of the old ballads about him – if not all – but there is one poem of some length which as yet I have not got tho I have repeatedly ordered it from Madrid. [7]  except this my collection is compleat.

About pitching my tent I still doubt xx inclination hesitates between Richmond & Cumberland. the pros & cons would easily fill the letter – but that there is a doubt of another nature first to be resolved, which will be done in about five weeks from this time. [8]  I know the chances are very great that all will end well – but still it may be otherwise – & my mind has acquired a habit of contemplating the worst & speculating upon its consequences in all cases – I think therefore the less of settling because of the possible loss that may utterly unsettle me. meantime to expect the best is to give so much comfort – & hitherto all has been as favourable as possible. a foolish fellow some little time since who wrote a tour says in it, he was overturned <in a stagecoach> which gave him an opportunity of experiencing a new sensation. [9]  that you know (if you remember my bruised face at Westminster) would be no new sensation to me – however I have some feelings growing up of a different class from any of my old friends or enemies.

My brother is with his Uncle at Taunton who it seems has quarrelled with Lord Somerville. [10]  this is a good thing for there is no one else to whom John Southey would give his property in preference to the right line. I shall feel my way & discover whether he is disposed to treat me with civility if I offer to go visit to him. perhaps this is not improbable. Corry may have done me more good in that way than he could be aware of – I myself had no notion that it was a political baptism which was to regenerate me – but so I see it is considered. John Southey is a proud man & a hard hearted man – rather from suppressed feeling than the want of feeling. he is growing old & finds that there is nobody who cares for him – that he who loved no one in his youth has no one to love him in his age. besides he is proud of having realized a large fortune by his profession & is fond of his own name. there is an Estate near Tenby of Sir John Stepney [11]  I think which he has been treating about to fix the family name he says in Wales. Now with this feeling it gratifies his vanity that that name is already known in the world. I shall tread softly upon the ice – but I will see if it will bear.

God bless you.

Robert Southey

I will send you the dog-lines as soon as I can translate them. [12] 


* Address: [deletion and readdress in another hand] To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Circuit Monmouth <Hereford>
Postmark: [partial] 08 AUG
Endorsement: Aug 8/ 1802
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John Talbot Dillon (1734-1806; DNB), Letters from An English Traveller in Spain, in 1778, On the Origin and Progress of Poetry in that Kingdom (1781). BACK

[2] Dillon’s Travels through Spain, with a View to Illustrate the Natural History and Physical Geography of that Kingdom, in a Series of Letters (1780) drew on William Bowles (1705-1780; DNB), Introduction to the Natural History and Physical Geography of Spain (1775), and on the observations of both Don Antonio Ponz (1725-1792), secretary of the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and Pedro Rodrigues de Campomanes (1723-1802), politician and economist. BACK

[3] Juan José Lopez de Sedano (1729-1801), El Parnaso Español (Madrid, 1768-1778). Southey had used this extensively in the letters on Spanish poetry he contributed to the Monthly Magazine; for example, see Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, [January 1798], Letter 281. BACK

[4] Ausiàs March (c. 1397-1459), Catalan poet and imitator of Petrarch; see Dillon, Letters from An English Traveller in Spain, in 1778, On the Origin and Progress of Poetry in that Kingdom (London, 1781), pp. 54-56. BACK

[5] Jorge of Montemayor (c. 1521-1561). His translation of March’s poetry was made c. 1555. This volume cannot be identified in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[6] Southey was transcribing material relating to Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar (c. 1040-1099), a Castilian aristocrat and military commander, whose exploits were the subject of numerous poems and tales. Southey’s English translation and compilation of three of these was published in 1808 as The Chronicle of the Cid; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 21 June 1802], Letter 683. BACK

[7] Possibly the 13th or 14th-century El Poema De Mio Cid. BACK

[8] The birth of Southey’s first child, which occurred on 31 August 1802. BACK

[9] John Gale Jones (1769-1838; DNB), surgeon and radical, Sketch of a Political Tour through Rochester, Chatham, Maidstone, Gravesend &c., including Reflections on the Tempers and Dispositions of the Inhabitants of Those Places (London, 1796), p. 6. BACK

[10] The Southeys’ distant relation John Southey Somerville, 15th Lord Somerville (1765–1819; DNB). BACK

[11] Sir John Stepney, 8th Baronet (1743-1811). He had been trying to sell his Llanelli estate, in South Wales, for several years. John Southey did not buy the property. BACK

[12] The ‘dog lines’ came from Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá (1555-1620), who served as a captain in the 1598 expedition that first colonised New Mexico. His epic Historia de la Nueva México (1610), Canto 19, lines 221-244, described how he was forced to kill his dog for food. However, he then found he was unable to eat the animal. BACK

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