811. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 23 July 1803]
811. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 23 July 1803] *
My dear Wynn
You give me very great pleasure by saying you would gladly assist me in the legal department  if you thought yourself equal to the task – for that ‘if’ will be no insurmountable obstacle (do you remember poor Bunbury & your theme upon Pride?)
Old law is no uninteresting study – it is too closely connected with the history of manners. I shall go thro the laws of Ina  (if as I think, they have been printed) & make a compendium of them. it will be a good preliminary study to the Codigo Gothico  which I have been so long expecting from Madrid – the Partidas,  & the various codes that have sprung from the same Gothic root, the root of all that is valuable in European policy. to Hoel Dha  I must do the same propter Madocum  – & I rather expect some interesting result from a comparison of Celtic with Gothic jurisprudence. you know that, maugre Madoc, my prejudices are all Gothic, & that I bless the Romans first & the Saxons for redeeming the Britons from the original sin of carrotty hair – red freckled faces more broad than long, & brains of the same flat character.
Now as for being equal to the task – I should feel myself quite equal to stating out of Glanvil,  Fleta  &c what was the law in their time – but to know what has been lopt away & what is overgrown by young shoots, that is beyond me. but it certainly is in your power. Crede quod habeas et habes.  if you will read them as a lawyer, I shall, in pure book gluttony, look thro them for whatever is not law– & if any thing should escape us, it will hardly pass thro Turners sieve who will go thro them in his plan of going on with the history of England.
I thought you would like the plan of the Bibliotheca. it has made me quite happy in the future tense, & given a present value to all stray reading. all the dormant capital of knowledge in my cerebrum & cerebellum is about to be made productive. & my old stall gleanings seem to be sprouting out like potatoe-rinds, into an uncalculated return.
What became of the library of the Chandos family?  Warton  had heard that it contained a copy of the Antiocheis of Joseph of Exeter  – which poem – if that copy do not exist – is lost. I would give one of my ears to recover it.
Your sisters  correct me well. I meant the song to the old recitative sort of tune – like the song of Gregory Gubbins in the Battle of Hexham 
God bless you
* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M.P./ To R Southey/
Worcester/ Worcester/ Bristol
Postmark: BRISTOL/ JUL 25 1803
Endorsement: July 23/ 1803
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 320-321 [where it is dated [23 July 1803]].
Dating note: Dated from the postmark and endorsement. BACK
 Southey had asked Wynn to assist him with the ‘Bibliotheca Britannica’, a plan for a chronological account of literature written in Britain, which the prospective publishers Longman and Rees abandoned in August 1803. BACK
 Ine, King of Wessex 688-726. He issued a code of laws in 694. This code was first translated in Aylett Sammes (1636-1679; DNB), Britannia Antiqua Illustrata (1676), no. 2405 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK
 The Visigothic Code of laws, promulgated in 642 and 654 and translated into Spanish in the 13th century. BACK
 William Wotton (1666-1727; DNB), Cyfreithjeu Hywel Dda (1730), used in the notes to Madoc (1805). BACK
 Ranulf de Glanville (c. 1120-1190; DNB), reputed author of Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Anglie (c. 1187-1189), a manual on royal judicial procedure. BACK
 Fleta (fl. 1290-1300; DNB), name used to designate the author of a Latin treatise on common law. BACK
 The Dukedom of Chandos became extinct in 1789, but much of the family library had been sold in 1747. BACK
 Thomas Warton (1728-1790), The History of English Poetry, 4 vols (London, 1774-1781), I, pp. 150-154, deals with the Antiocheis but does not mention its location. BACK
 Joseph of Exeter (fl. 1180-1194; DNB), Antiocheis, an epic poem on the Third Crusade, of which only a fragment survives. BACK