William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Alan G. Hill (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 4: The Later Years: Part I: 1821–1828 (Second Revised Edition)

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21. W. W. to VISCOUNT LOWTHER

MS. Lonsdale MSS. Hitherto unpublished.

26th Febry 1821

My dear Lord Lowther,

You are quite right, I think, in recommending that no notice should be taken of the contradiction of your statement.3 One might have opposed that anonymous contradiction, by other paragraphs from other papers, confirming and going beyond your allegation, but it was not worth while.

pg 39Mr Wilson of Abbott Hall,1 has heard that the Blues are about to pay their Bills, and to put in 60 or 70 Annuitants, and wishes to be prepared to meet them, should this be done;2 and, for this purpose, he begs you would send him the names from Alston Moor, which you thought some time ago, might be procured there. If men are wanted, and cannot be had nearer to Appleby, would it not be easy for the Becketts to raise them among their connections at Leeds.3 Mr Wilson mentions to me Millom—and something might be done there; but when I was in that quarter lately I was scrupulous about mentioning the subject fearing that if it were proposed to Lord Lonsdale's tenantry, and they became Freeholders upon request, they might presume upon their own consequence. I sent in one name from that district, Mr Steble4 beneficed by Lord L—at Whichham. I shall probably have occasion to go again into Millom shortly; I will then see Mr Towers5 of Duddon Grove, and if you think proper will push the matter in that District.

I trust the Ministers will oppose the extension of the Poor Rates to property not already subject to them. I see it has been attempted in respect to the shipping of Hull.6 But I am sure you will be of opinion that the more you encrease the facilities of the poor being maintained at other people's expense, the more poor you will have.—The relief to the landed interest would only be temporary, and the evil would soon come back upon them aggravated, and more difficult to manage even than it now is. Nothing can be of service which does not tend to diminish the number of applicants and to regulate the allowance. Strong measures will be necessary, for which the Public ought to be gradually prepared; and such measures as the lowest orders will be disposed to resist, perhaps by force. But among many advantages to be derived from pg 40the Yeomanry Corps not the least would be their cooperation in maintaining tranquillity should the measures, which sooner or later will become necessary in remodelling the poor laws, be attended with disturbances.

Yesterday the Banns were published in church at Grasmere for a Girl 16 years of age and a drunken Shoemaker of 25, who already has a bastard child to provide for. Such marriages could never be in places like this were it not for the ruinous operation of these laws. The Girl was one of eight children all supported out of the parish Rates.

  • ever my dear Lord Lowther          
  • faithfully yours     
  • Wm Wordsworth   

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Notes

Editor’s Note
3 Concerning Bergami. See previous letter.
Editor’s Note
1 See MY ii. 417.
Editor’s Note
2 Since the Westmorland elections of 1818 and 1820 W. W. had been playing an active part in consolidating opposition to Brougham, principally by helping to increase the number of freeholders sympathetic to the Lowther cause. See MY ii. 476.
Editor’s Note
3 The family of Lord Lowther's brother-in-law, John Beckett (see MY ii. 515), had considerable banking interests in Leeds.
Editor’s Note
4 The Revd. Allison Steble, b. Whitehaven and admitted Sizar at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, in 1784: rector of Whicham, since the appointment of Dr. Satterthwaite to Lowther in 1818.
Editor’s Note
5 Richard Towers (1770–1828), of Duddon Grove, a mansion in the Duddon Valley mid-way between Broughton and Ulpha. He was a Deputy-Lieutenant for Lancs.
Editor’s Note
6 Through a private measure, the Hull Poor Rates Bill, which was discussed in the House of Commons on 19 Feb. It was attacked by Huskisson for extending poor rates to a new type of property. The debate was reported in the Westmorland Gazette for 24 Feb.
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