2047. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 24 February 1812]

2047. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 24 February 1812]⁠* 

My dear Wynn

You no doubt can explain something that puzzles me. May 1. 1810. Sir S. Romillys Bill [1]  for altering the law respecting Privately Stealing appears to have been thrown out by 33 to 31 voices. May 30. of the same year I find this same Bill before the Lords & thrown out there. At first I supposed there was a mistake in the Reporter & that it had been past in the Commons, – but a speech of Romilly’s May 4th shows that this is not the case. It must then have been a different Bill, originating in the Lords, but when, or by whom, I cannot discover for in the Debates for the year (Cobbetts) the debate of May 30 is the only occasion in which <time when> the subject is mentioned in the Upper House. [2] 

How lamentable it is that we had not an Ambassador at Rio Janeiro [3]  of sufficient influence to have prevented this wretched proclamation edict concerning the Portugueze press. [4]  Sir Sidney Smith [5]  would have done it. Prince Joam has xxxxxx <a thoroughly> good heart, – but I cannot help wishing for the sake both of Brazil & Portugal that he were in safe durance with his xxxxxx brother in law Ferdinand. [6]  They would make excellent comrades at cribbage.

Have you seen Count Julian? [7]  There are passages there in the highest strain of poetry.



* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ London
Postmark: FREE/ 24 FY 24/ 1812
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: dating from postmark. BACK

[1] The lawyer and MP Samuel Romilly (1757–1818; DNB), who, amongst other things, wished to restrict the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty. For Southey’s account, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 232–240. Romilly had proposed to repeal three different laws which imposed the death penalty, including one for ‘privately stealing’ goods worth 5 shillings from a shop. A motion to engross the bills (i.e. put them in a final form after consideration in committee) was lost 33–31 in the Commons on 1 May, but the bill on ‘privately stealing’ later passed the Commons without division, only to be defeated in the Lords on 30 May 1810. BACK

[2] Cobbett’s Parliamentary Debates, 17 (1812), 196–200. BACK

[3] Percy Clinton Sydney Smythe, 6th Viscount Strangford (1780–1855; DNB), Minister-Plenipotentiary and Envoy-Extraordinary to the Portuguese Court 1806–1814. BACK

[4] See The Times (12 February 1812). The edict (5 October 1811) forbad the licensing by the Lisbon censors of works which insulted the monarch and royal family; attacked Christianity; and commented positively or negatively on the Spanish Cortes. BACK

[5] Sir Sidney Smith (1764–1840; DNB), naval officer. He commanded the British fleet that accompanied the Portuguese court to Brazil, and then the South American station, in 1807–1809. BACK

[6] John VI (1767–1826; King of Portugal 1816–1826), Prince Regent of Portugal 1799–1816 was married to Princess Charlotte (1775–1830), sister of Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833). Ferdinand was a prisoner in France 1808–1813. BACK

[7] Walter Savage Landor, Count Julian: A Tragedy (1812). It dealt with similar subject-matter to Southey’s Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

People mentioned

Cobbett, William (1763–1835) (mentioned 1 time)