420. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 8 July 1799

420. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 8 July 1799 ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

I will send a book for Richards. [1]  as however my miscellaneous volume [2]  will be ready in a fortnight, it is not worthwhile to send this in a seperate parcel.

Have you seen Grosvenors Ballad of the Hags Disaster? [3]  there is a great deal of merit in it – but unluckily the point lies in some

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& might perhaps offend some readers. Grosvenor I think has never written any thing better. If Lewis [4]  likes to write for the M Magazine Lenora, he may have it I believe. the translators direction is Wm Taylor Junr – Surry Street. Norwich. [5]  he is aware how very superior this translation is xxxxxx to any xx xxx other. the Pious Painter stares me reproachfully in the face whenever I open my desk – I must finish it off. [6]  about Martha [7]  I know not what to think, the opening is impressive – but it flags. I do not copy the Well of St Keyne as you will have it so shortly in print. [8] 

In reviewing the fourteen books of Madoc which are written I find that one part of my plan has utterly faild, that of identifying Madoc with Mango Capac. [9]  no one circumstance in the history of the Peruvian legislator is applied, or applicable to the Welshman. it could only be managed by drowning all the fleet except Madoc & his sister – & I have not the heart to drown so many poor fellows. this must therefore be abandoned, & of course the more rational idea pursued that Florida was the country reached by Madoc. [10]  there cannot be a more compleat proof how thoroughly I have failed in my old plan than when I tell you that this alteration will not require the sacrifice of more than three hundred lines! the manners & superstitions of the North Americans are more strongly charactered than those of the Southern tribes. I have not indeed the Andes, but my story led me not among them – & if I lose the Condors, I get among the Crocodiles.

You have I suppose seen the Anti-Jacobine Review. [11]  I am surprized at its lenity. there is little abuse, & the passages which hxx they adduce as so many counts in their indictment, are fair specimens of the poetry. the Critical also, where I have most miserable helpmates & correctors by the by, discovers a resemblance between the Old Woman & Lenora. [12]  because I suppose there is a horse in both – & of the same breed perhaps. you remember why Macedon is like Monmouth. [13] 

I have taken a little house in Hampshire, near Christ Church for my Mother. we shall not get possession till Michaelmas. [14]  in the meantime I purpose going to the Devonshire coast, whither we shall set out in about a week or ten days. our new mansion will be about seven pounds ten shillings – a year – xx xx & at this rate we may well keep it for a long vacation retreat – where I go & wash off London filth in the sea.

I am better, sensibly to myself, & visibly to those around me.

God bless you.

yrs truly

R. Southey.

Monday July 8. 99


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr/ 5 Stone Buildings/ Lincolns Inn/ London
Stamped: BRISTOL
Postmarks: FREE/ JY/ 9/ 99; B/ JUL 9/ 99
Endorsement: July 9/ 99
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 195–197. BACK

[1] Probably Sir Richard Richards (1752–1823; DNB), an eminent lawyer in Chancery. BACK

[2] The Annual Anthology, the first volume of which was published in 1799. BACK

[3] Sent by Southey to Wynn on 14 October 1799 (Letter 446). BACK

[4] The poet and playwright, Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775–1818; DNB), author of the controversial Gothic novel, The Monk (1796). BACK

[5] Taylor’s translation of ‘Lenora’, first published anonymously in the Monthly Magazine, 1 (March 1796), 135–137, was used by Lewis in Tales of Wonder, 2 vols (London, 1801), II, pp. 469–482. BACK

[6] The first part of Southey’s ballad ‘The Pious Painter: A Catholic Story’ had appeared anonymously in the Morning Post, 2 November 1798. The second was published anonymously in the same newspaper on 26 July 1799. Both were reprinted in Southey’s Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), pp. 240–247. BACK

[7] ‘The Circumstance on which the Following Ballad is Founded Happened not Many Years Ago in Bristol’, Morning Post, 11 June 1799, retitled ‘The Mad Woman’, Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1800), pp. 70–73. BACK

[8] First published anonymously in the Morning Post, 3 December 1798, and reprinted in Southey’s Annual Anthology (Bristol, 1799), pp. 229–232. BACK

[9] Manco Capac, in legend the first Inca. The connection between Madoc and Capac was suggested in John Williams (c.1732–1795; DNB), The Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1789), II, pp. 424–425. BACK

[10] For the idea that Madoc settled in Florida, see John Williams (1727–1798), An Enquiry into the Truth of the Tradition, Concerning the Discovery of America, by Prince Madog ab Owen Gwynedd, About the Year, 1170 (London, 1791), p. 48. BACK

[11] The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, 3 (June 1799), 120–128, reviewed Joan of Arc (1798) and Poems (1799). BACK

[12] Critical Review, 26 (June 1799), 162. BACK

[13] See Henry V, Act 4, scene 7, lines 24–39. BACK

[14] 29 September 1799. BACK

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