John Wilson Croker

Robert Southey to John Wilson Croker, 1813; The Croker Papers, ed. Louis J. Jennings (1884) 1:44.

Streatham, Saturday Afternoon.

[Probably in September, 1813.]

Twenty years ago, when I had a reputation to win, it would have been easy for me to furnish odes upon demand on any subject. This is no longer the case. I should go to the task like a schoolboy, with reluctance and a sense of incapacity for executing it well; but unless I could so perform it as to give credit to the office, certain it is that the office could give none to me.

But if these periodical exhibitions were dispensed with, and I were left to write upon great events, or to be silent, according as the spirit moved, I should then thankfully accept the office as a mark of honourable distinction, which it would then become.

I write thus to you, not as proposing terms to the Prince, an impropriety of which I should be fully aware, but as to a friend who has more than once shown me acts of kindness which I had no reason to expect and by whose advice I would be guided.