William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt, Alan G. Hill, and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 3: The Middle Years: Part II: 1812–1820 (Second Revised Edition)

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546. W. W. to LORD LONSDALE

  • MS. Lonsdale MSS., Record Office, The Castle, Carlisle.
  • K (—). MY ii. 623, p. 846 (—).

  • Monday
  • 24 May 1819
  • Rydal Mount

My Lord,

Allow me to add a few words (by way of Postscript to my Letter of Saturday) respecting the management of the Quarterly Review. Wishing that what I cannot but think the errors of the Bullionists should be laid open, I wrote to Mr Southey begging his interest with the Editor of the Q.R. to procure the Reviewing of the Pamphlets on this subject for Mr De Quincey, editor of the Westnd Gazette.1

Mr Southey writes in reply: 'I fear the Q.R. would be closed against De Q's opinions upon the Bullion question, as it is against mine on the Catholics' (Mr Southey is an enemy to further concession); 'and indeed more certainly because some years ago it took the pg 544wrong side upon that subject;1 and consistency in a political error is the only kind of consistency to be expected in a journal of this kind. This I am sorry for, because if De Quincey could bring his reasonings before the public through a favorable channel I think he would go far towards exploding a mischievous error.' From this extract, may be seen that these Reviews value above everything, the keeping up the notion of their own mysterious infallibility. It is probable that the Q.R. is closed against the opponents of the Catholic claims, in consequence of its having espoused the other side, through the influence of Mr Canning over the Editor.2 The great circulation of the two Reviews the Quarterly and the Edinburgh, has been very injurious to free discussion, by making it almost insurmountably difficult for any writer not holding a public situation, to obtain a hearing if his opinions should not suit either of these periodical publications.

I was truly glad to see the majority by which the House of Lords expressed their opinion of the Cath. Q.3

  • I have the honor     
  • to remain        
  • My Lord        
  • most faithfully yours   
  • Wm Wordsworth     

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 In a notable editorial on 6 Feb., De Quincey had already argued against the resumption of cash payments on the ground that a metallic currency was not the test or appropriate product of national wealth; and he followed this up with a series of articles on 'Paper of the Bank of England', which appeared on 6, 17 Feb.; 20, 27 Mar.; 3, 10, 17 Apr.; and 22 May.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. after the publication of the Bullion Committee's Report in Aug. 1810. The Quarterly Review, Nos. viii and ix (Nov. 1810 and Feb. 1811), had included no less than four articles discussing the Report and related topics, and all of them were in general agreement with the Committee's conclusions. For the evidence for Canning's hand in these articles, see F. W. Fetter, 'Economic Articles in the Quarterly Review & their Authors, 1809–50', Journal of Political Economy, vol. lxvi (Feb. and Apr. 1958). For Southey's own view of the Bullion question, see Waiter, iii. p. 136.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. William Gifford. Both Canning and Croker had come out in favour of concessions to the Catholics.
Editor’s Note
3 The Catholic question had been debated in the House of Lords on 17 May: a motion in favour of relief was lost by forty-one votes.
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