475. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 8 January 1800

475. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 8 January 1800 ⁠* 

Jan 8 1800

My dear Wynn

One of the Wedgewoods tells me he has just obtained a passport from government to go to the South of France on account of his health. You will not wonder that the intelligence gave me a wish to xxx do the same. There is an after difficulty supposing this surmounted & that xx is the French passport – but Wedgewood is personally acquainted with some of the Chemists who are now transmuted into Senators, [1]  & expects no difficulty here, & he offers to assist me thro the same channel if I can procure the passport from our own government. Whether there be any impropriety in asking it, you will judge. Madeira would be a prison – & the tedium of confinement in it counteract the climate. I should think Tuscany safe – Sicily is a better climate – but the people are turbulent & I have no wish to witness the xxxxx Italian revolutions. if France be inaccessible I must think of Lisbon, or more probably of the West Indies. One of the healthy Islands – were it not for the voyage, would offer a strong inducement, in the opportunity of seeing tropical scenery.

I continue the same. quite recovered from the effects of the nervous fever, but with the pain at in my side & the same annihilating feelings – for such they seem – recurring at night. by day I have spirits – but at night ether only slightly relieves the symptoms instead of removing them. the mental stimulus of travelling will be useful to me.

Maraccis Refutation of the Koran has much amused me. he collects all the Mohammedan miracles. some, he says, are lies. some may be true, but then the Devil wrought them. one which happened to please him, he strongly suspected to be true of some Xtian Saint & stolen by the Musselmen. [2]  After all this the honest Father gives a specimen of what miracles ought to be believed – St Janarius’s blood is one – & the Chapel of Loretto another. [3]  – One of the Mohammedan stories is very fine. [4]  A husband taking leave of his wife, commended the child with whom she was pregnant, to God. he departed – & the wife died. but on his return after an absence of some months it was told him that a light appeared nightly on his wifes grave. he went to it – the tomb opened, & his wife rose in her grave-clothes & presented to him her living child – telling him – that had he commended both to God, both would have been preserved. this said she returned to death – & the grave closed.

Of Trieste I have rather a favourable account from Duppa who has twice been there – & passd a month there in a severe winter. Lombardy he recommends, & in case of peace, & particularly Padua or Vicenza. At Trieste I could judge in safety of the practicability of getting into Italy. as for banditti, as I should steer clear of Calabria & the Tyrol there is not much to apprehend – & my way would lie wholly in Germany from Hambro to the Adriatic.

God bless you.

yrs affectionately

Robert Southey

Jany. 8. 1800


* MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The French Constitution of the Year VIII, approved after the Brumaire coup in November 1799, provided for a Senate, which included some eminent French scientists, some of whom had worked in the field of chemistry, including Claud-Louis Berthollet (1748–1822), Jean Darcet (1725–1801), Gaspard Monge (1746–1818) and Paul Simon Laplace (1749–1827). BACK

[2] Lodovico Maracci (1612–1700), Alcorani Textus Universus ex Correctioribus Arabum Exemplaribus Summa Fide, atque Pulcherrimis Charecteribus Descriptus, ... in Latinum Translatus, 2 vols (Padua, 1698), II, part 2, pp. 76–77 and appendix; used as a note in Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), Book 11, line 114. BACK

[3] The blood of St Januarius, patron saint of Naples, is kept in two ampoules and is said to liquefy three times a year at festivals. The Holy House at Loretto is believed, in Catholic tradition, to be the house that Jesus grew up in at Nazareth and that was transported by angels to Italy in the 13th century. BACK

[4] This story is related to Southey’s plans for an unexecuted poem on ‘The babe born in the grave’, Common-Place Book, ed. John Wood Warter, 4 series (London, 1849–1850), IV, p. 274. BACK

People mentioned

Wedgwood, Thomas (1771–1805) (mentioned 2 times)
Duppa, Richard (c. 1768–1831) (mentioned 1 time)