272. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [12 November 1797]
272. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [12 November 1797] *
My dear Wynn
All the blunders concerning Coke  will soon be over I hope, my letter to Wynnstay, & what I have this day written to Sancho will explain them — & the book will soon be here I suppose.
For my little poem in the Magazine.  Philips  had been some year & half importuning me for my name, & I did not like the appearance of pride in refusing it. the piece pleased me. look at the word very as there used again — it occurs twice — & you will find that in the last place it is used as an adjective, & no other word could so well supply it. in the first — it scarcely — even to my own ear seems expletive “It was a very plain & simple tale. By the by I called it a plain tale — to which Philips or Aikin absurdly tacked on a syllable & made it ridiculous — plaintive! it was written at Burton — the mere recital of what happened near our lodgings.
You will be surprized perhaps at hearing that Cowpers  poem does not at all please me. you must have heard it in some moment when your mind was predisposed to be pleased, & the first impression has remained. indeed I think it — not above mediocrity — I cannot trace the Author of the Task in one line. I know that our tastes differ much in poetry. & yet I think you must like these lines by Charles Lamb. I believe you know his history — & the dreadful death of his mother.
I am aware of the danger of studying simplicity of language. but you will find in my blank verse a fullness of phrase when the subject requires it. these lines may instance
God bless you. I come to London Monday the 20th.
* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn/ 5. Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London
Postmarks: FR/ NO/ 13/ 97; NO/ 13/ 97
Endorsement: Nov, 13/ 1797
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London, 1849–1850), I, pp. 324–326 [in part; misdated 20 November 1797].
Dating note: 12 November was a Sunday in 1797, and therefore probably the day on which Southey wrote this letter. BACK
 Edward Coke (1552–1643; DNB), Commentarie upon Littleton (1628), the first part of his four part Institutes of the Laws of England (1628–1644). BACK
 ‘Hannah, a Plaintive Tale’ was published in the Monthly Magazine, 4 (October 1797), 287. From 1799, it was incorporated into Southey’s sequence of ‘English Eclogues’ and retitled ‘The Funeral’. BACK
 Sir Richard Phillips (1767–1840; DNB), author, publisher and proprietor of the Monthly Magazine. BACK
 Published as ‘Written Soon after the Preceding Poem’, in Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd, Blank Verse (London, 1798), pp. 84–86. BACK