851. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 11 November [1803]

851. Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 11 November [1803] ⁠* 

Dear Wynn

From your long silence I was beginning to be apprehensive that you might be ill. I now write under an apprehension of a different nature – lest you should have sent me a draft which has miscarried – as in the Falmouth case. the last you gave me was in London, & my finances are now drained.

Thank you for the extracts. I have not the books you refer to at hand, & must leave the finish of the Welsh part [1]  till to be compleated somewhere else whenever the poem be printed – an event to which I now look on as my first ononymous labour. It gives me an awful kind of feeling – for it is now fifteen years since I first took up the subject – & almost as long since you first heard of it. so many hours have been devoted to it – it has occupied so many of my thoughts & feelings – & when it is once gone forth I shall feel as if my harvest was got in & the winter hard at hand.

I do not leave this place this winter as you seem to imagine. indeed if my health stands the spring I know not where better to pitch my tent for this is a lovely country. Some six months hence I must perhaps move to see Madoc thro the press – & in that case shall prefer Edinburgh to London, being nearer, & because I have never seen it – & my brother Harry will be there. My plan is to print the book myself & get subscriptions – that is names, not publishing this intention, till I have first felt whether or not it be likely to succeed. the price shall be a guinea – it shall be printed in quarto if that price will allow it – if not in a smaller size. I am puzzled for a device for your arms – if you were CWWW of Mathrafal [2]  – one might have a view of the place & hang the shield from an old oak.

God bless you.

R S.

Friday Nov. 11. Keswick.

I have Bayleys Poems to review. if my gentleman had been aware of this he would not have struck the first blow. he quotes heathen Greek upon me & I will have my revenge in plain English.  [3] 

I have found a name for our present government in Milton. [4]  – a Duncery. does it not suit admirably?


* Address: To/ C W Williams Wynn Esqr. M.P./ Wynnstay/ Wrexham
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Endorsement: Nov 11/ 1803
MS: National Library of Wales, MS 4811D. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey had finished a version of Madoc in 1797-1799 and was revising it for publication. It did not appear until 1805. BACK

[2] The ancestral home of the Kings and Princes of Powys. It featured in Madoc, hence Southey’s lament that it was not connected to Wynn, to whom the poem was dedicated. BACK

[3] Peter Bayley (1778-1823; DNB), Poems (1803). The first poem in the collection, ‘An Apology for Writing’, lines 46-55 and Note, attacked Southey’s Joan of Arc (1796) and (1798), deploying a quotation in Greek from Plato. Southey contributed a coruscating review of the book to the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 546-552. BACK

[4] John Milton (1608-1674; DNB), Reason of Church-Government Urg’d Against Prelaty (London, 1642), p. 40. BACK

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)