1018. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 12 January 1805

1018. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 12 January 1805 ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

Unless the newspapers lie the expedition to Portugal is resolved upon. I have written to my Uncle who will perhaps apply to Frere for me: & asked Dapple to get my name mentioned to General Moore. [1]  That is to let him know what I wish & why I wish it, which with such a man may possibly have some weight, if he hears of me thro any other channel. It is possible that John May may find out a way to serve me at Gloucester House. [2]  I know he will if he can. But what I do not know is in what direction these things are to be sought. There are many civil appointments attached to such expeditions which would give me comfortable rations, convenient pay, & ample leisure; so as to enable me to do my business there, & return with a few hundreds, & it may be some recommendation to those who dispose of these situations; that I am acquainted with the country & the language & the people.

However this war with Spain might in its consequences benefit me, I am very sorry that it has been undertaken. As far as I can judge the quarrel appears to have been unnecessarily & ungenerously provoked by us. The capture of the Spanish frigate was an action more becoming Bonaparte than the government of England. It is as hard to go to war with Spain because she pays tribute to France as it would be to hang a man for having been robbed. The feelings of all Europe were coming round to us before this act of aggression. [3] 

Never was there such a winter remembered in Cumberland. Frost without snow – thaw without rain, & such sunshine as almost induces me to believe that our English sun is really the same as the Portuguese one.

God bless you.


Saturday Jany 12 1805.


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M. P./ Wynnstay/ Wrexham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales MS 4812D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), Scottish General with a long and varied military career. He was also MP for Lanark Burghs 1784–1790. After the controversial Convention of Cintra (1808), Moore was given the command the British troops in the Iberian peninsula. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna. In December 1804 he was sent to review the practicability of defending Portugal from a French invasion. His favourable report was widely leaked to the press, e.g. Aberdeen Journal, 9 January 1805. BACK

[2] The residence in Piccadilly, London, of King George III’s (1738–1820; DNB) younger brother Prince William, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1743–1805; DNB). BACK

[3] On 5 October 1804, the British, having learned that Napoleonic France had intimidated Spain into paying an annual tribute of 72 million francs until it should declare war on Britain, launched a pre-emptive strike, in time of peace and without declaration of war. Four Spanish frigates bringing treasure from South America to the Spanish government were captured, and as a result, Spain declared war on Britain on 14 December 1804. BACK

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