2349. Robert Southey to [John Wilson Croker], 15 December 1813

2349. Robert Southey to [John Wilson Croker], 15 December 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Dec 15. 1813.

My dear Sir

Do me the kindness to cast your eye over these stanzas before they pass the bourne from which there is no return. I do not make this request for the sake of criticism, however valuable that might be, – your xxx time is far too precious for this; – but because, for the first time in my life I feel it is possible that there may be something more than my own opinion & character to consult in publication, even tho I am not subject to the jurisdiction of Mr Larpent. [1]  Tell me if there can be any impropriety in publishing the three concluding stanzas as Poet Laureate? [2] 

Of the Poem I will say nothing but to except that it is rather an oration in verse than an Ode, – & for that reason I have given it a generic title. I mean soon to bring forth a series of Inscriptions, triumphal and sepulchral, recording the actions of our army in the Peninsula, & the more distinguished officers who have fallen. [3]  If it be fitting, I should wish to introduce them with a dedicatory epistle to the Prince Regent, – which of course I should transmit for your perusal & approbation.

Believe me my dear Sir

very truly & thankfully yours

Robert Southey.

The 1st. 2d. 6th. & 19th stanzas are sent to Sir Wm Parsons to serve the purpose of the Ode in Ordinary. [4]  These xx are perfectly unexceptionable.


* Endorsement: Ansd/ Dec 24
MS: Morgan Library, MA 1005. ALS; 2p.
Previously published: Myron F. Brightfield, John Wilson Croker (London, 1940), pp. 213-214 [in part]. BACK

[1] i.e. be subjected to censorship by John Larpent (1741–1824; DNB), the Examiner of Plays 1778–1824, who had authority over dramatic productions. BACK

[2] Southey’s first official poem as Poet Laureate was extremely controversial and much altered prior to publication. Five stanzas were considered by Croker and Rickman to be inflammatory, because of their hostility to Napoleon, whom the allies had not yet decided to depose. Indeed the verses could be interpreted as a call to assassinate the French Emperor. Southey bowed to pressure and deleted them from the version published as Carmen Triumphale in a quarto of 30 pages on 1 January 1814. He incorporated the deleted stanzas into an ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, published in the Courier, 3 February 1814. BACK

[3] The series of Inscriptions on the Peninsular War, of which Southey only wrote 18 of the intended 30 poems. BACK

[4] The New Year’s ode which Parsons had to set to music. BACK

People mentioned

George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)