2935. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 7 March 1817

2935. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 7 March 1817⁠* 

My dear Wynn

You have taken a great deal of trouble for me, – & I feel sincerely obliged for it. The amended affidavit cannot be sworn till tomorrow. [1]  A Master of Chancery [2]  comes here from Cockermouth once a week & Saturday is his day.

Brougham I see gave me credit for being ‘high in the confidence of his M. Ministers.” [3]  – This will give some support to a ridiculous opinion <which> already prevails so as to annoy me with <occasion many annoying> applications, that I am not only a very wealthy but a very important personage. – My place of residence, & my habits of life are oddly suited for a Courtier, – & a politician!

I have a letter to night from Edward, written from Birmingham, on his way to London, ( – unless he should pick up an engagement on the road). In town he says he shall be sure of a good dinner whilst the Clive family [4]  stay – with whom has he ingratiated himself there? Oh if those talents of his had been taken a right course; what another right hand should I have found in him! – I know not how better to serve him, nor indeed in what other way, than by helping him from time to time in his present course, without letting him x in any manner rely upon me, which, to do him justice, he has never shown any disposition to do.

He tells me that in Wolverhampton, Bilston & that neighbourhood “the inhabitants seem strongly tinctured with the poison infused by the various inflammatory publications dispersed among them; & by the institution of twopenny clubs, where the deleterious rhapsodies of Cobbett are poured into their greedy ears.” – Unless some means be devised of punishing such fellows as libellers as this in such a manner as may prevent the repetition of the offence, – all other measures must be nugatory. I know not how this is to be done unless it be by transportation, & trusting to the spirit of the times for remitting that punishment in cases where it could be too severe.

I am sorry for Horners [5]  death, – he supt with me here many years ago & left upon me a much more favourable impression than his companions, of whom Jeffrey was one. I thought him a mild, even-minded man. And indeed in these days it is no light merit for a member of the H. C. to maintain that character. You have men who carry the manners as well as the principles of the N. Convention [6]  there.

I hope you will be in town the latter end of April during the time of my transit.

God bless you


7 March. 1817.


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqre M.P./ Hamilton Place/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: FREE/ 10 MR 10/ 1817
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4812D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had learned that Wat Tyler, a radical play he had written in 1794, had been published without his consent. His affidavit was part of his legal action to obtain an injunction to prevent the play’s circulation. BACK

[2] Masters in Chancery were solicitors who carried out routine duties for suits in the Court of Chancery, including taking affidavits. BACK

[3] Southey may be referring to Brougham’s speech in the House of Commons on 24 February 1817, when he contrasted the unwillingness of the government to prosecute Southey’s early radical play, Wat Tyler, for sedition, with its eagerness to pursue radical publications. BACK

[4] Possibly the family of Edward Clive, 1st Earl of Powis (1754–1839; DNB), army officer, Governor of Madras 1798–1803 and leading landowner and politician in the Welsh Borders. BACK

[5] Francis Horner (1778–1817; DNB), Scottish barrister and economist; Whig MP for St Ives 1806–1807, Wendover 1807–1812, St Mawes 1813–1817. He died on 8 February 1817. He was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review in 1802, but had supported Spanish opposition to France in 1808–1813, which may have softened Southey’s opinion of him. Horner’s meal with Southey probably occurred on 19 October 1805, when Southey entertained Jeffrey, after sharing the coach from Scotland with him. BACK

[6] The National Convention, the single assembly chamber which ruled France 1792–1795, during the period of The Terror. BACK