739. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [30 November 1802]

739. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [30 November 1802] ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

The name of an Edinburgh Review [1]  was quite new to me & I have no chance of seeing their notice of Thalaba – but any Review good or bad is a good thing, for I am afraid the dust lies heavy on him in Longmans warehouse. By the by Longman is about to start a new Review [2]  & has applied to me to bear a part therein. the Critical has supplied me of late so very sparingly that I did not hesitate to give the yes – as my old friend the Spanish ballad writers phrase it, – so that in some cases I shall probably have a double voice.

I have two French histories of Portugal. Neufvilles, & la Cledes, [3]  neither printed in columns – but I have seen Vertots [4]  so printed. if it be any other pray secure it for me. I wish now that I had taken that xxx memoirs of the Queens of Spain [5]  mutilated of its prints as it was – it would have answered my use till I found another copy, & then might have been exchanged.

The Ballads of the Cid [6]  are very numerous, & generally very bad. some of them have fine passages – but not one tolerable enough as a whole to bear translation. I expect an older poem upon Rodrigo from Lisbon as soon as it can be procured from Madrid. [7]  a sketch of his literary history will make a good note, from the first ballads down to the Epics of Philip 2ds time [8]  – to Corneille [9]  – & Montengon. [10]  I mean to do this with all the heroes of romance or history that come within my limits.

I have not seen Coleridges letters. [11]  As for the politics of this wicked world – his Majesty & his Majestys ministers [12]  have certainly a very peaceable & well disposed subject in me. all my political irritation goes off in a curse or two at Bonaparte. I have forgiven young Jenkinson for Lord Hawkesburys [13]  sake, & Mr Addington [14]  is got into my good graces. your cousin [15]  puts me in mind of Sir Kay in Mort Arthur  [16] – he never jousts without getting a fall.

My eyes are a little better. Chatterton [17]  will be out in a fortnight. Of Amadis [18]  about half a volume only is printed.

God bless you –




* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Lincolns Inn/ London
Postmark: [partial] BRISTOL/ OV 30
Endorsements: Nov 30/ 1802; Mr Wynn
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Edinburgh Review, 1 (October 1802), 63-83 carried Francis Jeffrey’s hostile review of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[2] The Annual Review. BACK

[3] Jacques Le Quien de Neufville (1647-1728), Histoire Generale de Portugal (1700), no. 2101 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library; and Nicolas de La Clede (1700-1736), Histoire Generale de Portugal (1735), no. 612 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[4] Rene-Aubert Vertot (1655-1735), Histoire de la Conjuration de Portugal (1690). BACK

[5] Possibly, Enrique Flórez (1702-1773), Memorias de las Reynas Catholicas (1770). Southey later obtained a copy of an edition from 1790, no. 3466 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[6] Southey had transcribed for Wynn 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. BACK

[7] Southey was possibly hoping to obtain a copy of the 14th-century El Poema de Mio Cid. BACK

[8] Philip II (1527-1598, King of Spain 1556-1598). BACK

[9] Pierre Corneille (1606-1684), Le Cid (1636). BACK

[10] Pedro Montengon y Paret (1745-1824), author of El Rodrigo (1793). BACK

[11] Coleridge’s two public letters ‘To Mr. Fox’, Morning Post (4 November and 9 November 1802), attacked the leading Whig politician Charles James Fox (1749–1806; DNB) for visiting France and appearing to be complicit with the regime of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821, First Consul 1799-1804, Emperor of the French 1804-1814). BACK

[12] George III (1738–1820; reigned 1760–1820; DNB) and his government. BACK

[13] Robert Jenkinson, later 2nd Earl of Liverpool (1770-1828; DNB), Foreign Secretary 1801-1804, Home Secretary 1804-1806, 1807-1809, Prime Minister 1812-1827. His father was Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool (1727-1808; DNB), President of the Board of Trade 1786-1804. BACK

[14] Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth (1757-1844; DNB), The Speaker 1789-1801, Prime Minister 1801-1804, Home Secretary 1812-1822. BACK

[15] Possibly a reference to Thomas Grenville (1755-1846; DNB), MP for Buckingham 1796-1810, who opposed the peace with France and the Addington government. BACK

[16] Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405-1471; DNB), Le Morte d’Arthur (1485). Sir Kay was King Arthur’s foster-brother and noted for his clumsiness. BACK

[17] Southey and Joseph Cottle, The Works of Thomas Chatterton (1803). BACK

[18] Southey’s translation of Amadis of Gaul (1803). BACK

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