William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 2: The Middle Years: Part I: 1806–1811 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • Address: Revd F. Wrangham, Hunmanby, near Bridlington, Yorks.
  • Franked: Workington, April third, J. Curwen.2 1809.
  • MS. Henry Huntington Library.
  • K. MY i. 369, p. 289.

[end March 1809]

My dear Wrangham,

You will think I am afraid that I have used you ill in not replying pg 312sooner to your last letter; particularly as you were desirous to be informed in what Newspaper my pamphlet was printing. I should not have failed to give you immediately any information on this subject which could be of use but in fact, though I began to publish in a newspaper, viz., the Courier, an accidental loss of two or three sheets of the Manuscript prevented me from going on in that mode of publication, after two sections had appeared. The Pamphlet will be out in less than a fortnight, entitled at full length, Concerning the Relations of Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, to each other and to the common Enemy, at this crisis, and specifically as affected by the Convention of Cintra, the whole brought to the Test of those Principles by which alone the independence and freedom of Nations can be preserved or recovered. This is less a Title than a Table of Contents, I give it you at full length in order that you may set your fancy at work (if you have no better employment for it) upon what the Pamphlet may contain.—I sent off the last sheets only a day or two since, else I should have written to you sooner; it having been my intention to pay my debt to you the moment I had discharged this debt to my Country, and to the virtuous of all Countries. What I have written has been done according to the best light of my Conscience; it is indeed very imperfect, and will I fear be little read, but, if it is read, it cannot I hope fail of doing some good—though I am aware it will create me a world of enemies, and call forth the old yell of Jacobinism.—I have not sent it to any personal friends as such; therefore I have made no exception in your case. I have ordered it to be sent to two, the Spanish and Portuguese Ambassadors, and to three or four other public men, and Members of Parliament, but to nobody of my friends and relations. It is printed with my name, and I believe will be published by Longman.——

Verses have been out of my Head for some time; but in some inspiring moment should such be vouchsafed, I may not be unmindful of the request which you do me the honour to make. You must permit me to return the same request on my part to you; there may not be much invention in this, the sincerity of it may make amends.

pg IN3


From a portrait by J. Jackson, R.A.

pg IN4

pg 313I am very happy that you have not been inattentive to my suggestion on the subject of Topography.1 When I ventured to recommend this pursuit to you, I did not for a moment suppose that it was to interfere with your appropriate duties as a parish priest—far otherwise—but I know you are of an active mind; and I am sure that a portion of your time might be thus employed without any deduction from that which was due to your professional engagements. It would be a recreation to you—and also it does appear to me that records of this kind ought to be executed by some body or other, both for the instruction of those now living and for the sake of posterity; and if so, the duty devolves more naturally upon Clergymen than upon other persons; as their opportunities and qualifications are, both, likely to be better than those of other men. If you have not seen White's and Whitaker's books, do procure a sight of them.——

I was aware that you would think me fair game upon the Catholic Question2—but really I should be greatly obliged to any man who would help me over the difficulty I stated. If the Catholics upon the plea of their being the majority merely (which implies an admission on our part that their profession of faith is in itself as good as ours, as consistent with civil liberty), if they are to have these requests accorded, how can they be refused (consistently) the further prayer, of being constituted upon the same plea, the established Church? I confess I am not prepared for this—with the Methodists on one side and the Catholics on the other, what is to become of the poor Church and people of England, to both of which I am most tenderly attached, and to the former, not the less on account of the pretty little spire of Brompton Parish Church, under which you and I were made happy men, by the gift from providence of two excellent wives. To Mrs Wrangham present my cordial regards, and believe me dear Wrangham

  • Your very sincere and affectionate Friend,    
  • W. Wordsworth.    

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 John Christian Curwen (1756–1828) of Workington Hall was M.P. for Carlisle and a supporter of the Opposition. When Southey, Wordsworth, and others in the autumn of 1808 thought of drawing up an Address to the King
Editor’s Note
2 Wrangham was a consistent advocate of Catholic Emancipation in days when most Anglican clergymen shared Wordsworth's fears.
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