695. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 July 1802

695. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 13 July 1802 ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

My last letter was travelling after you when yours arrived. you will have known by that which it enclosed to Elmsley my whole history as far as I then knew it. since that Rickman has transmitted to me the remainder of my salary – & now that the connection has ended [1]  I have at last discovered why it began. I have found it out – as Vincent says. [2]  I was to be tutor to the son. but to be called Secretary to the Father in order that the tutor might be paid by the Treasury. a good specimen of ways & means. [3] 

I am curious to know what effect this will produce upon many persons who have been officious in civility wholly & solely with reference to that situation & the prospects they thought it opened, – & who by that civility made me understand their former neglect. the strangest mixture of feelings I perhaps ever experienced was when Daunceys wife [4]  apologized to me & gave me her hand & burst into tears while the neglect existed I thought nothing of it. my temper does not lead me to unpleasant thoughts – like a fellow with a stinking breath I did not know why my <old> acquaintance kept at a distance. Is the secretarian character indelible? or am I unregenerated –

Your Cid is half done. [5]  I regret the want of some Spanish poems about him which I know not when I shall get. but one of these is among the oldest poems in the language [6]  & whenever I do get it must be of great authority as to manners – my documents now use the Chronicle of the Cid, [7]  – the General Chronicle [8]  which differs very little from it. the Ballads [9]  – & Sandovals Chronicle the Kings Fernando, Sancho & Alonzo, [10]  an excellent book that scrutinizes every fact & brings deeds & inscriptions to refute or confirm.

I think of fixing my residence near Richmond – xx if to remain unsettled in expectation of getting abroad is but a bad policy. a library xx should xxxx be a fixture. besides I have materials enough in England to work upon for three years. it is an unpleasant thing to have no local attachment – no motive for choice – the neighbourhood of London suits me best for the convenience of getting books – & of seeing the friends whom I wish to see while at the same time I am out of the way of idle acquaintance. these are solid reasons – but if John May should not be able to find such a house as would suit me I shall have as good a reason for pitching my tent farther from London in the disproportion of expence. if you were domesticated at Llangedwin I should wish for a Welsh cottage in sight of the grove that grows over the house – where I might learn Welsh from the servant & the xxxxx church service! but the constant neighbourhood of one friend is among the necessaries of life.

St Athendius [11]  does not come because I am not quite certain whether the M.P. ought to be yet annexed to your name. [12]  When you do you approach Bristol? if my brother should be with me when you reach Monmouth I will contrive to meet you there & show him the Wye at the same time.

God bless you

yrs affectionately

R S.

July 13. 1802. Kingsdown .


* Address: To/ Charles Watkin Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Wynnstay/ Wrexham
Stamped: [illegible]
Postmark: BRISTOL/ JUL 13 1802
Endorsement: July 13 1802
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), I, pp. 277-279. BACK

[1] Southey was no longer in the employ of the politician Isaac Corry. BACK

[2] Presumably a catch-phrase of Southey’s old headmaster William Vincent. It was possibly one he had deployed to devastating effect when he discovered Southey’s authorship in the fifth issue of the schoolboy magazine, The Flagellant, 29 March 1792, of an essay which claimed flogging was an invention of the devil and parodied the Athanasian creed. The incident had led to Southey’s expulsion from school. BACK

[3] The Committee of Ways and Means was the House of Commons committee responsible for examining the budget. BACK

[4] Marie (Mary) Dauncey (b. 1769) was the daughter of Southey’s childhood friend, Mrs Dolignon. She was married to Philip Dauncey (d. 1819), a barrister who became a Kings Counsel and Treasurer of Gray’s Inn. BACK

[5] Southey was transcribing material relating to Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar (c. 1040-1099), a Castilian aristocrat and military commander, whose exploits were the subject of numerous poems and tales. Southey’s English translation and compilation of three of these was published in 1808 as The Chronicle of the Cid; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, [c. 21 June 1802], Letter 683. BACK

[6] The 13th or 14th-century El Poema De Mio Cid. BACK

[7] Chronica Del Famoso Cavallero Cid Ruydiez Cameador (1593), no. 3344 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] Chronica de Espana (1541), no. 3338 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Historia del Muy Valeroso Cavallero el Cid Ruy Diaz de Bivar, en Romances en Lenguage Antiguo, recopilados por Juan de Escobar (1632), no. 3449 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[10] Southey is probably referring to Chronica del Rey Don Alonso el Sabio, Don Sancho el Bravo, e Don Fernando Quarto (1554), no. 3337 in the sale catalogue of his library. However, this work was not by the Spanish bishop Prudencio de Sandoval (1553-1620). BACK

[11] ‘A True Ballad of a Pope’, Morning Post, 4 February 1803. Southey derived this story from the Chronica de Espana (1541), so he may well have written the poem at this time, when he was copying from the Chronica for Wynn. BACK

[12] A general election was in progress between 5 July and 28 August 1802. BACK

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