758. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 4 February 1803

758. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 4 February 1803 ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

Yours has safely reached me. you are I believe aware that from my situation out of the city, it is impossible to acknowledge a letter by return of post.

I am heartily glad that your opinion of the Edinburgh attempt at Thalabacide differs so little from my own. [1]  for tho perhaps our lists of bad expressions, lines & passages might differ, mine would probably be the longest. On the whole I am fully satisfied with the reception the poem has found, such approbation in private as most gratifies me, & such public censure as attracts attention, & <will> makes the subject remembered when the censure itself is forgotten. has the Anti-Jacobin yet noticed it? [2]  from the manner in which Wordsworths poems were reviewed there, [3]  I should have suspected Gifford of writing there. I have read his life [4]  – & forgiven him all his x sins – even his notes to the Intercepted Letters. [5]  his Juvenal has been most infamously reviewed in the Critical. [6]  by the passages selected there for abuse I have little doubt that his opinion of poetical language would agree very nearly with my own.

Coleridge has been lately with me. he is going abroad for his health. he talks of making a poem upon the Cids death. [7]  I wish it may be something more than talk.

I have a heavy job on hand – almost all the Last Year Voyages & Travels to review! [8] 

God bless you

R S.

Feby. 4. 1803.


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M.P./ Lincolns Inn/ London
Postmarks: FREE/ FEB 4/ 1803; [partial] BRISTOL/ FEB
Endorsement: Feb. 4 1803
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 306-307. BACK

[1] The review of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) by Francis Jeffrey in Edinburgh Review, 1 (October 1802), 63-83. BACK

[2] Thalaba the Destroyer (1801) was not reviewed by the Anti-Jacobin. However, it was described in passing as a ‘monster of composition’, Anti-Jacobin Review, 16 (October 1803), 205. BACK

[3] Lyrical Ballads (1800) was given a brief, favourable review in the Anti-Jacobin, 5 (April 1800), 434: describing it as containing ‘genius, taste, elegance, wit and imagery of the most beautiful kind’ and its author as possessing ‘a mind at once classic and accomplished’. The reviewer was William Heath (1749-1854). BACK

[4] William Gifford had published The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis (1802), the ‘Introduction’ to which told his life story in some detail. BACK

[5] Probably Copies of Original Letters from the Army of General Bonaparte in Egypt (1798), which had gone into numerous expanded editions since its first publication by the loyalist bookseller and propagandist John Wright (1770/71–1844; DNB). BACK

[6] Critical Review, 36 (September 1802), 10-17, (October 1802), 188-192 and (November 1802), 316-327. Gifford replied with An Examination of the Strictures of the Critical Reviewers on the Translation of Juvenal (1803), in turn savaged in the Critical Review, 38 (July 1803), 337-341. BACK

[7] Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar (c. 1040-1099), Castilian nobleman and military commander. He died peacefully at Valencia, the city he had conquered. Coleridge did not carry out his intention to write a poem on this subject. BACK

[8] Annual Review for 1802, 1 (1803), 7-30, 35-43, 45-56, 62-73, 89-101, 207-218, contained Southey’s reviews of the following travel books: Martin Sauer (fl. 1802), An Account of a Geographical and Astronomical Expedition to the Northern Parts of Russia … by Commodore Joseph Billings (1802); Alexander MacKenzie (1763/4-1820; DNB), A Narrative, or Journal of Voyages and Travels through the North-West Continent of America (1802); Christian August Fischer (1771-1829), Travels in Spain in 1797 and 1798 (1802); Giuseppe Acerbi (1773-1846), Travels through Sweden, Finland and Lapland, to the North Cape (1802); Maria Guthrie (d. 1800), Tour, Performed in the Years 1795-6 through the Taurida , or Crimea (1802); Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811), Travels through the Southern Provinces of the Russian Empire in 1793 and 1794 (1802-1803); Guillaume Antoine Olivier (1756-1814), Travels in the Ottoman Empire (1801); and Periodical Accounts Relative to the Baptist Missionary Society (1800-1801). BACK

People mentioned