1740. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. February 1810]

1740. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. February 1810] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

I am very far from thinking that a set of Politicians when they get into place are bound to repeal all the measures which they have opposed when out of place; – even supposing their opposition to have been upon pure principle & not upon pure party, as it usually is. Thus I hold Fox [1]  to have been perfectly right in what he said about the Union. – You will see some part of my objection to the Foxites in the Register. [2] . – with regard to the Income, [3]  what I abominate is the extent to which they carried it, & the detestable manner in which it is taken from every body. – leaving those who are not below the line a right of getting it back again, – which it is so difficult for them to do. But I hate them worst because they are already subdued in heart by Buonaparte, & ready to sacrifice the honour of the country, – without which there is no salvation for us. – As for unrejectable terms of peace I do not agree with you. The independence of S America is not his to offer, for our fleets prevent them from ever being his. – You will see what I have said about making the war professedly personal against Buonaparte & distinguishing between him & the French nation. [4]  This should have been done at the moment when his usurpation of Spain left him without disguise. [5] 

The Long Main is the great Cock fight, [6]  – more fashionable & less brutal than the Welsh Main. [7] 

God bless you



* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M.P./ Acton/ Wrexham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: This appears to have been written in February 1810, possibly in reply to Wynn’s response to Southey’s letter of [c. 2 February 1810], Letter 1739. BACK

[1] Charles James Fox (1749–1806; DNB), Whig politician and Foreign Secretary in 1806 in the ‘Ministry of all the Talents’ of 1806–1807. He had opposed the Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1800, but on 17 February 1806 declared ‘it was not now to be lightly rescinded’. BACK

[2] Edinburgh Annual Register for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 2–7 BACK

[3] The ‘Ministry of All the Talents’ of 1806–1807 had modified the income tax in 1806, raising it to 10% on incomes over £150 p.a., with a system of abatements and allowances for incomes of £50 to £150 p.a. In Edinburgh Annual Register for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 4, Southey vented his anger against this ‘Cruel and iniquitous’ tax. BACK

[4] Edinburgh Annual Register for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 25–26. BACK

[5] i.e. when Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808. BACK

[6] The Long Main was a famous week long cock-fight that coincided with Newcastle races in the last week of April or first week of May. Southey witnessed it during a visit to Durham in 1810, with the intention of including it in his unexecuted continuation to Letters from England (1807). BACK

[7] The Welsh Main was held at various locations at Easter and was regarded as one of the severest tests on the cockfighting calendar. It usually featured over 30 birds who fought each other head to head until one was left standing. BACK