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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Grosvenor C. Bedford, 20 December 1822

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Keswick, Dec, 20. 1822.
“My dear G.,

“I have no written form of admission to the office of Laureate, and very well remember being surprised at the thoroughly unceremonious manner of my induction. At the day and hour appointed (a very memorable one, the Prince Regent going to Parliament just after the news of the battle of Leipsic had been made public), I went to a little low, dark room in the purlieus of St. James’s, where a fat old gentleman-usher, in full buckle, administered an oath to me, in presence of a solitary clerk; and that was all, payment of fees excepted, which was not made at the time. Walter Scott, I recollect, was amused at the description which I sent him of this ceremony, and said it was a judgment upon me for inserting among the Notes to the Cid a reflection of Sir John Finett’s upon the ‘superstition of a gentleman-usher.’ Whether any entry was made, and whether I signed my name, I cannot call to mind, it being nine years ago. Gazetted, however, I was, and P. L. I have been from that time. But how can this concern you?

“You know the proverb, that he who is not handsome at twenty, wise at forty, and rich at fifty, will never be rich, wise, or handsome. Quoad my handsomeness—handsome is as handsome does, and whatever I may have been, they have made a pretty figure of me in magazines. There is a portrait in a German edition of my smaller poems, which it will
be a treat for you to see. You will never again complain of your ugly likeness below stairs. Concerning the second part of the adage, certain it is that about the age of forty, my views upon all important subjects were matured and settled, so that I am not conscious of their having undergone any change since, except in slight modifications upon inferior points. But for the last part of the story,—rich at fifty,—I certainly shall not be, nor in the way to be so.

“When I deliberated, if deliberating it can be called, about the Quarterly Review, the single motive on one side was the desire of having an adequate and sure income, which I have never had since I discontinued the Edinburgh Annual Register, because it ceased to pay me for my work. My establishment requires 600l. a-year, exclusive of other calls. The average produce of my account with Longman is about 200l.; what I derive from the Exchequer you know; the rest must come from the grey goose quill; and the proceeds of a new book have hitherto pretty generally been anticipated. They may float me for a second year perhaps. Roderick did for three years, with the help of the Pilgrimage—then the tide ebbs, and so I go on. At present it is neap tide in the Row. My tale of Paraguay, when I can finish it, will about make it high water.

“This is all very well, while I am well; but if any of the countless ills which flesh is heir to should affect my health, eyesight, or faculties, I should instantly be thrown into a state in which my income would only amount to about half my expenditure.
Ætat. 48. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 131
Concerning death I have no anxieties. . . . . On that score I am easy, and not uneasy upon any other. But I have said all this to explain why it was that I could even ask myself the question whether it would become me to take the
Quarterly Review into my own hands. I am quite satisfied that it would not; but that it behoves me to go on, as I have always hitherto done, hopefully, contentedly, and thankfully, taking no farther care for the morrow than that of endeavouring always to be able to say, sufficient for the day hath been the work thereof.

“I have made a valiant resolution that the produce of this History shall not be touched for current expenses, looking to it always as the work wherewith I was to begin to make myself independent. The Book of the Church I must eat, but I will not eat these Peninsular quartos. The Whigs may nibble at them if they please.

“I have just received an official communication from Sir William Knighton, which, though it be marked private, there can be no unfitness in my communicating to you. It is in these words, ‘I am commanded by the King to convey to you the estimation in which His Majesty holds your distinguished talents, and the usefulness and importance of your literary labours. I am further commanded to add, that His Majesty receives with great satisfaction the first volume of your valuable work on the late Peninsular War.’ This is the letter, and at the head of it is written—‘entirely approved. G. R.’ Is not this very gracious? and how many persons there are whom such a Communication would make quite
happy. For myself I am sorry there are so few persons connected with me who can be gratified by it, and wish my good
Aunt Mary had been here to have enjoyed it. I may deposit it with my letters affilifatory from the Cymmrodorion, &c., and I might write upon the packet that contains them, vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas. Not that I would be understood as affecting, in the slightest degree, to undervalue what I am continually labouring to deserve.

“God bless you!
R. S.”