699. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn [fragment], 26 July [1802]

699. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn [fragment], 26 July [1802] ⁠* 

My dear Wynn

Your letter & its contents have just reached me – I wish there were a form of words that would fitly acknowledge the receipt – the paper has lain this ten minutes in waiting with the pen upon that dash there above. thank you!

I had heard of the brawn receipt [1]  from Turner who read it in the original which is printed in the Archaiology. [2]  it is true because men do not invent such oddxxx <lies> & because it tallies with half a hundred stories which Rickman & I used to laugh over at Dublin Castle & talk of collecting one day into an Anthologia Hibernica.

You shall <have> the dog story [3]  which I will try to translate ere long. it is not from the Araucana [4]  – but from a poem which seems to be written in imitation of it – by a man who like Ercilla had served in the wars which he sung. A worse poem in every respect – yet with some passages that amply repaid me for reading above 10,000 verses. I have seen Miss Sewards letter: its main drift seems to be a wish to vindicate the versification of her own sonnets. [5]  my versification she does not understand & to her has not learning enough to know that as far as precedent be good for anything upon such subjects, it is justified by Greek – German & Italian authority. one would think she wished to provoke a controversy by twice [6]  setting at me in public. the best argument I ever heard against that metre was from Sotheby. [7]  he said there was a danger of its becoming monotonous – & not having the various harmony of blank verse. that it was <a> more plain & palpable metre he fully allowed.

Lambe I see is returned for Rye [8]  – & probably in the high road to place.

I have received a Portugueze glossary [9]  from Lisbon lately. a wretched book – but still of great use. to day I shall finish the ninth reign [10]  in its second state. in the next begins the great period of discovery & victory. the chapters of manners &c I cannot write till the oldest codes reach me – & my Uncle & I have had a heavy loss at Lisbon in the death of the only honest & intelligent bookseller. [11]  a young man with the best physiognomy almost that I ever saw

God bless you.

R S.

July 26.


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr M.P./ Wynnstay/ Wrexham
Postmark: 122/ BRISTOL/ JUL 26 1802
Endorsement: July 26 1802
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A recipe for brawn – a seasoned, jellied meatloaf, made from the head and feet of a pig or calf. BACK

[2] The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (1801-1807), edited by William Owen Pughe, printed many medieval Welsh manuscripts for the first time. BACK

[3] The ‘dog story’ came from Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá (1555-1620), who served as a captain in the 1598 expedition that first colonised New Mexico. His epic Historia de la Nueva México (1610), Canto 19, lines 221-244, described how he was forced to kill his dog for food. However, he then found he was unable to eat the animal. BACK

[4] Alonso de Ercilla y Zuniga (1533-1594), Spanish soldier and author of La Araucana (1569-1589). BACK

[5] For the letter sent by Anna Seward see The Poetical Register, and Repository for Fugitive Poetry, for 1801 (London, 1802), pp. 475-486. BACK

[6] Seward had authored a widely published attack on Joan of Arc, ‘Philippic on a Modern Epic’ (1797). BACK

[7] The poet and translator William Sotheby (1757-1833; DNB) on the metre of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). BACK

[8] On 6 July 1802, Lamb had been elected as an MP for Rye, a town whose political life his family dominated. His connections served him moderately well, and he vacated his seat in 1806 when appointed to the position of Law Clerk at the Home Office. BACK

[9] Unidentified. BACK

[10] Ferdinand I (1345-1383; reigned 1367-1383). BACK

[11] Possibly Jorge Bertrand, a bookseller and publisher, who Southey had known on his visit to Portugal in 1800-1801. BACK

People mentioned

Seward, Anna (1742–1809) (mentioned 1 time)
Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
Turner, Sharon (1768–1847) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Dublin (mentioned 1 time)