1843 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

William Wordsworth to Lady Bentwick, 1 April 1843; Letters of the Wordsworth Family, ed. Knight (1907) 3:267.



The Lord Chamberlain, in terms the most honourable, has, with the Queen's approbation, offered me the vacant laureateship. Had I been several years younger I should have accepted the office with pride and pleasure; but on Friday I shall enter, God willing, my seventy-fourth year, and on account of so advanced an age I begged permission to decline it, not venturing to undertake the duties. For though, as you are aware, the formal task-work of New Year and Birthday Odes was abolished, when the appointment was given to Mr. Southey, he still considered himself obliged in conscience to produce, and did produce — some of very great merit — upon important public occasions. He failed to do so upon the Queen's Coronation, and I knew that this omission caused him no little uneasiness. The same might happen to myself upon some important occasion, and I should be uneasy under the possibility; I hope, therefore, that neither you nor Lord Lonsdale, nor any of my friends, will blame may for what I have done.