1111. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 October [1805]

1111. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 October [1805] ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

Elmsley & I arrived here on Thursday afternoon – we staid three days on the way with Walter Scott, from whom I have procured the inclosed drawings of Newark Castle on the Yarrow for your prospected illustration. [1]  The little one he says is well done by a Mr Skene [2]  or Skrine – of some eminence. The others you can have made into drawings if you like them. they are like the place. – I am not without hope of getting a drawing of Dacre Castle for you. [3]  there is a print of it in the Beauties of England & Wales, [4]  & a good one, but it is only of the building itself whereas the situation & scenery make a fine picture.

Jeffrey having been asked to meet me this evening for the first time, sent me the review of Madoc as printed: there was a gentlemanly decency in thus doing, as the review is exceedingly uncivil, tho mixed up with xxxx compliment enough. [5]  It will serve the poem, as being long, & making it appear of consequence; & it will hurt him instead of me as it every where shows the wish of finding fault without the power, & exemplifies more forcibly than any thing he has yet done that utter ignorance concerning what is good or what xxx bad in poetry, of which even his friends have already begun to suspect him. – Of course, I shall meet him with good humour, thank him for his fair dealing in letting me know upon what terms we stood, just observe that, as he must suppose, I have quite as little respect for his opinions as he has for mine, – & then pass to other subjects. A man who has been <reviewing> above fifty times as I have been, may be considered as proof. You & all who like the poem, or who like fair dealing, will be more offended than I am.

I cannot venture to describe this place. You must see it yourself.

God bless you


I shall be at home in about ten days so you had better direct to Keswick.

Sunday 13 Oct.


* Address: To C W Williams Wynn Esqr M. P. Wynnstay/ Wrexham/ Wales <Shreswbury>
Stamped: WREXHAM/ 202
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Newark Castle is a ruin in the valley of the Yarrow Water, three miles west of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. Presumably Wynn was sourcing illustrations to be tipped into his copy of Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), in which Newark castle features. BACK

[2] James Skene (1775–1864; DNB), friend of Walter Scott, gentleman artist and promoter of the fine arts in Scotland. BACK

[3] Dacre Castle, Cumbria, a pele tower built in the 14th century for protection against the Scots. It also features in Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel. BACK

[4] The Beauties of England and Wales (1801–1818) was a series of lavishly-illustrated accounts of the historical features of Britain, produced by John Britton, the antiquary, with his friend Edward Wedlake Brayley (1773–1854; DNB). Dacre Castle is described and pictured in vol. III (1802), pp. 160–161. BACK

[5] Jeffrey reviewed Southey’s poem Madoc (1805) in the Edinburgh Review, 7 (October 1805), 1–29. BACK

People mentioned

Scott, Walter (1771–1832) (mentioned 1 time)
Britton, John (1771–1857) (mentioned 1 time)
Elmsley, Peter (1774–1825) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)