3589. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 21 December 1820

3589. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 21 December 1820⁠* 

My dear Wynn

The manner of Col. Shipley’s death [1]  is shocking. Several instances of the same kind have occurred within my knowledge; – Bent whom you remember at Westminster [2]  was one.

Your general charges against the Ministry of timidity & vacillation are well founded. But in many points one sees the fair motives of their conduct, & in others they are condemned because things have turned out contrary to all reasonable expectation. It was certainly not to be expected that the Queen [3]  should take Alderman Wood [4]  for her director instead of Brougham; nor that she should have the more than brazen impudence to brave such an exposure; & least of all was it to be thought that such an exposure should produce no effect upon the multitude. In allowing the proceedings to be published a fatal error was committed. [5]  It was an appeal to the people; & it has ended as all appeals to the people must end, while the people are in their present state.

I have only one book of Sir C. Stuarts, [6]  which came to me from Lisbon with a charge of sixteen guineas postage, he being Envoy there at the time! Mr Freeling let me off for one guinea, the cost of the book having been seven or at most nine shillings. I have kept it, expecting his return to England, but will now make enquiry thro my Uncle how it is to be sent him. Certainly not by the post.

My hexameters are finished, & gone to the press. [7]  – There is nothing of mine in this Q.R. And I hear that Gifford has cut away the longer & better half of the article upon Mrs Hemans, [8]  which is written by John Coleridge, – a man of great worth & ability, & very likely to distinguish himself in his profession; – the law.

God bless you


21 Dec. 1820.


* MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] William Shipley (1778–1820), MP for St Mawes 1807, 1812–1813, and Flint Boroughs 1807–1812, husband of Wynn’s sister, Charlotte Williams Wynn (1773–1819). Having contracted huge gambling debts he fled abroad and was killed in the south of France on 29 November 1820 in a shooting accident. BACK

[2] John Bent (c. 1777–1798) of Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, and an old Westminster schoolfellow of Southey and Wynn. He was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1796, but died on 12 November 1798 as ‘the result of the accidental discharge of a fowling piece’. BACK

[3] Under extreme pressure from George IV, the Cabinet had reluctantly agreed to introduce a Bill of Pains and Penalties into the House of Lords to deprive the King’s wife, Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821; DNB), of the title of Queen and to dissolve her marriage to the King. On the Third Reading of the Bill on 10 November 1820, the government majority was only nine votes and it seemed very unlikely the Bill could pass the House of Commons. Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, therefore had announced the Bill would be withdrawn. BACK

[4] Sir Matthew Wood, 1st Baronet (1768–1843; DNB), Lord Mayor of London 1815–1817, MP for the City of London 1817–1843. Leading radical and partisan of Queen Caroline. BACK

[5] As the Bill of Pains and Penalties had been debated in front of the press in the House of Lords, the case against Queen Caroline was widely known and discussed. BACK

[6] Sir Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay (1779–1845; DNB), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal 1810–1814, Ambassador to France 1815–1824, 1828–1830, Ambassador to Russia 1841–1844. The book was Manuel Calado (1584–1654), Valeroso Lucideno e o Triunfo da Liberdade (1648). BACK

[7] A Vision of Judgement (1821). BACK

[8] John Taylor Coleridge’s review of various works by Felicia Hemans (1793–1835; DNB) in Quarterly Review, 24 (October 1820), 130–139, published 19 December 1820. BACK