3715. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19-20 August 1821

3715. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 19–20 August 1821⁠* 

Keswick. 19 Aug. 1821.

My dear Wynn

Returning yesterday from a fortnights visit at Netherhall I found on my chimney-piece a card with these lines

Southey, for thee whom not one Muse neglects:
A quondam critic leaves his kind respects:
Long us’d thy genius & thy worth to scan,
Who loves the Poet, fain would know the Man.

On the other side was the name of the – Revd Archdeacon Nares. xx That name recalled xx many recollections now more than thirty years old, of which in all human probability not a trace will remain on earth thirty years hence, – the Bishopric, the Lord H. & that City which will be more irrecoverably lost than Atlantis, or the Ten Tribes. [1]  – He saw my Aunt Mary who introduced him to my den, which he pronounced a very comfortable one, as in truth it is, so comfortable, so every way suited to my wants & wishes, that I have not a desire beyond it.

Netherhall where I have been with Mrs S. & my eldest & youngest children, belongs to Senhouse, my fellow traveller in Switzerland. The tower in which we slept was standing in Edward 2ds reign, [2]  & some of his papers go back as far as the reigns of Edward 1. Henry 3. – one as far as K John. [3]  One of his family [4]  preached Ch. 1sts coronation sermon upon a text which was afterwards noted as ominous. In the wars which ensued, the second of two sons served in the Kings army, [5]  the eldest brother died, [6]  & the parents [7]  then wished to recall the survivor, lest their line should be extinct, but knowing, or having found, that other means would not succeed, they sent a faithful tenant of the family [8]  to persuade him to return. The event was that this tenant remained to take his chance in the same good cause. They were at Marston moor together, & at Naseby. [9]  There Senhouse fell: – his friend searched the field for his body, & found him dreadfully wounded <cut> & with a fractured skull; but still breathing. By timely care he was recovered, & lived to continue the race: the tenant had his land enfranchised, & both properties are still in the same lines The xxxxxx who also Senhouses sword has the back notched on each side, so as to form a double toothed saw, – to be used as such I suppose, for in a sword of that shape, made to cut & not to thrust with, this could not be intended to make a worse wound. I never saw one of the kind before.

My brother Henry writes me that Alexander the Ventriloquist [10] has been is looking for me, with a letter of introduction from a member of the Dutch Institute whose wife has translated Roderick into the language of the Hogen Mogen. [11]  When this Laker-Extraordinary arrived he ought to read me a specimen of the translation in his belly to give it its full effect.

The Massachusetts Historical Society [12]  have given me another tail to my name – one of my New England acquaintances has sent me some good books of American growth, to assist in the progress of O Newman. [13]  That poem is expected more eagerly in America than in England. There are some very interesting & able papers in the Transactions of the Am: Phil. Society – of which only one volume has been published [14] they relate to the Indians, & an Antiquarian Society has published the first vol. of an Archaeologia Americana in which is a minute account of the encampments, mounds &c raised (in all likelihood) by the Aztecas on their way to Mexico. [15] 

I have printed 42 sheets of the Hist. of the War. [16]  Mr Clive [17]  offered me some materials, some of which no doubt might be very useful to me, if I knew what they were. – I have lost both my correspondents in Spain & Brazil by death & a great loss it is. [18] 

Heber has had my best word & wishes. His opponents have acted in a very unhandsome manner. [19] my brother when he was a candidate for the Middlesex Hospital xxxxxx xx xxxxx kept upon such courteous terms with his opponent, [20]  as to obtain his assistance for the next trial, & live with him from that time on terms of thorough intimacy.

God bless you


20 Aug. Some Cathedrals of Sir T Acklands introducing dine with me to day. [21]  That word by a comical confusion, first between Collegian & College, & then between College & Cathedral, has been given by the people of this country to the Cambridge men, whom a late fashion sends here in flights to study during the long vacation. One of them who lodged at Clarke the Gardners [22]  had a bill sent xx in beginning Mr Clarke’s Cathedral to J. G. xxxxxx – &c


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqre M.P/ Llangedwin/ near/ Oswestry
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4813D. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), III, pp. 264–267. BACK

[1] Nares was Wynn’s tutor and, briefly, an usher at Westminster School 1786–1788. Southey here recalls shared memories of his and Wynn’s time at the school. Atlantis was a fictional island in Plato (c. 428/424–348/347 BC), Timaeus (c. 360 BC) and Critias (c. 360 BC); the fate of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel after their land was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC is unknown. BACK

[2] Edward II (1284–1327; King of England 1307–1327; DNB). BACK

[3] Edward I (1239–1307; King of England 1272–1307; DNB); Henry III (1207–1272; King of England 1216–1272; DNB); John (1166–1216; King of England 1199–1216; DNB). BACK

[4] Richard Senhouse (d. 1626; DNB), Bishop of Carlisle 1624–1626. He preached the sermon at the coronation of Charles I (1600–1649; King of England 1625–1649; DNB) on 2 February 1626. His text was: ‘And I will give unto thee a crown of life’, Revelation 2: 10. BACK

[5] Captain John Senhouse (d. 1667). BACK

[6] Humphrey Senhouse (dates unknown). BACK

[7] John Senhouse (d. 1667) and Elizabeth Wharton (dates unknown). BACK

[8] The tenant is unnamed in family histories of the Senhouses, but the property was at Ellenborough. BACK

[9] Marston Moor (2 July 1644) and Naseby (14 June 1645) were both crushing defeats for royalist forces in the English Civil War. BACK

[10] Nicolas Marie Alexandre Vattemare (1796–1864), famous French ventriloquist under the stage name ‘M. Alexandre’, and promoter of international exchanges between museums and libraries. BACK

[11] Bilderdijk was a former President (1809–1811) of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Science, Letters and Arts (founded 1808). In 1817 Southey had been elected an Associate of the Second Class of the Institute. Bilderdijk’s wife, Katherina, née Schweickhardt (1776–1830), was the author of Rodrigo de Goth, Koning van Spanje (1823–1824), no. 2701 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] The Massachusetts Historical Society (founded 1791) is the oldest historical society in the United States. It is based in Boston, and collects and preserves documents on American history. Southey had been elected a member. BACK

[13] Southey’s unfinished epic set in New England. A fragment was published posthumously in Oliver Newman: a New-England Tale (Unfinished): with Other Poetical Remains by the Late Robert Southey (London, 1845), pp. 1–90. BACK

[14] Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society, 1 (1819), no. 63 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The volume was largely made up of accounts of native Americans, including John Heckewelder (1743–1823), ‘An Account of the History, Manners, and Customs, of the Indian Natives who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighbouring States’, 1–350. BACK

[15] The American Antiquarian Society was founded in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1812. It published Caleb Atwater (1778–1867), ‘Description of the Antiquities discovered in the State of Ohio and other Western States’, Archaeologia Americana: Transactions and Publications of the American Antiquarian Society, 1 (1820), 105–267, no. 63 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The mounds were not raised by ancestors of the Aztecs but by indigenous peoples, like the Fort Ancient culture that flourished c. AD 1000–1750. BACK

[16] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[17] Sir Watkin Williams Wynn had married Lady Henrietta Antonia Clive (1786–1835), daughter of Edward Clive, 1st Earl of Powis (1754–1839; DNB) on 4 February 1817. One of the Earl’s sons was the Hon. Robert Henry Clive (1789–1854), MP for Ludlow 1818–1832, MP for Shropshire South 1832–1854. Clive had spent much time travelling in Spain during the Peninsular War and offered help to Southey with his History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[19] Richard Heber was returned as MP for the University of Oxford on 24 August 1821 after a bad-tempered contest against Sir John Nicholl (1759–1838), MP for Penryn 1802–1806, MP for Hastings 1806–1807, MP for Great Bedwyn 1807–1821, 1822–1832, ecclesiastical lawyer and Dean of the Court of Arches 1809–1834. Heber was, in particular, accused of favouring Catholic Emancipation. BACK

[20] Peter Mere Latham (1789–1875; DNB) defeated Henry Herbert Southey in the election for a post at Middlesex Hospital in 1814, but the two became friends (they shared a taste for Latin verse) and Latham assisted Henry Herbert Southey’s successful campaign to become Senior Physician in 1815. BACK

[21] Philip Hewett (1799–1879) student at St John’s College, Cambridge (1817–1822), later a clergyman and Rector of Binstead 1833–1879, fifth son of General Sir George Hewett, 1st Baronet (1750–1840; DNB); and Philip Barker (dates unknown), also a student at St John’s College, Cambridge (1817–1822), and later a barrister. BACK

[22] Thomas Clark (dates unknown), a Keswick nurseryman, who rented some of the land around Greta Hall. He had got into in severe financial difficulties and was made bankrupt in March 1817. BACK

People mentioned

Nares, Robert (1753–1829) (mentioned 1 time)
Koster, Henry (1793–1820) (mentioned 1 time)
Southey, Mary (1750–1838) (mentioned 1 time)
Heber, Richard (1774–1833) (mentioned 1 time)
Fricker, Edith (1774–1837) (mentioned 1 time)
(mentioned 0 times)

Places mentioned

Netherhall (mentioned 2 times)
Keswick (mentioned 1 time)