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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Allan Cunningham, 21 December 1828

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. 21. 1828.
“My dear Allan,

“Having no less than seven females in family, you will not wonder that as yet I have seen little more than the prints in your book* and its table of contents. It is, I do not doubt, quite as good in typographical contents as any of its rivals. The truth is, that in this respect there can be little to choose between; they are one and all of the same

* The Anniversary.

Ætat. 53. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 339
kind; the same contributors are mostly to be found in all of them, and this must of necessity bring the merits of all pretty much to an average. I am not sure that it would be for your interest to monopolise three or four writers, whose names happen to be high on the wheel of Fortune, if by so doing you should exclude some of those that are at present on the lower spokes. To me it seems the best policy that you should have many contributors, because every one would, from self-love, wish to promote the sale of the volume; and, moreover, every writer is the centre of some little circle, within which what he may write is read and admired. But the literary department, make what exertions you will, must be as inferior in its effect upon the sale to the pictorial one, as it is in its cost. At the best,
Allan, these Annuals are picture-books for grown children. They are good things for the artists and engravers, and, therefore, I am glad of their success. I shall be more glad if one of them can be made a good thing for you; and I am very sure that you will make it as good as a thing of its kind can be made; but, at the best, this is what it must be.

“I have not seen the Keepsake yet, neither have I heard from its editor. He has ‘o’erstept the modesty of puffing’ in his advertisements, and may very likely discover that he has paid young men of rank and fashion somewhat dearly for the sake of their names. You know upon what terms I stand with that concern.

“You wish for prose from me. I write prose more willingly than verse from habit, and because the hand
of time is on me; but, then, I cannot move without elbow room. Grave subjects which could be treated within your limits, do not occur to me; light ones I am sure will not; playfulness comes from me more naturally in verse. I have one or two stories which may be versified for you, either as ballads or in some other form, and which will not be too long. Want of room, I am afraid, would apply equally to a life of
John Fox, which would better suit the Quarterly Review, if Dibdin should bring out his projected edition. Sometimes I think the Bust may afford me a subject; but whether it would turn out song or sermon, I hardly know, perhaps both in one.

“Your book is very beautiful. The vignettes are especially clever. Of the prints Sir Walter interests me most for its subject, Pic-a-Back perhaps for its execution. It is the best design I ever saw of Richard Westall’s. To make your book complete as exhibiting the art of the age, I should like something from Martin and something from Cruikshank, otherwise I do not see how it could be improved.

“God bless you!

Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.”