William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 5: The Later Years: Part II: 1829–1834 (Second Revised Edition)

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698. W. W. to C. W.

  • Address: To the Revd The Master of Trinity, Cambridge.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. British Library. Hitherto unpublished.

Rydal Mount May 19th [1832]

My dear Brother,

In answer to John's Letter for which I feel much obliged I will say a few words to you. Our excellent and dear Sister, since her last Relapse has certainly been mending though slowly, yet we think gradually. Nevertheless she had a return of pain yesterday that alarmed us in some degree. On reading the above to Mary, she corrects the term slowly, and says that her course of Recovery has been more rapid since her last attack, than after the former One— and she seems now about as well as when John left us.1 What I am in fear of is these Relapses, coming from no assignable external cause. I have another pleasing piece of domestic news—Lord Lonsdale will present John2 to the Vicarage of Brigham; on the Derwent two miles below Cockermouth. It is now worth £190 per annum—of which 160 arises from Glebe. When Mr Fleming3 held it, it was worth £360. Unluckily there is no parsonage House. Could one be erected he would instantly give up Moresby, which now (after deductions) produces £100 per Arm—out of which he has thirty one pounds to pay for the House he lives in. Could you point out any way in which he could be helped in erecting a parsonage House at Brigham. The situation is beautiful, and he wishes much to reside, giving up Moresby,—to keep which would in no sense be an advantage to him, if he had a house at Brigham. At present he is hampered with two leases of houses in Moresby— losing 7 pounds per ann by that which he could not live in, on account of his wife's health. I will now try to write better, but I must have a better pen—pg 526Mr Goulburn1 says, 'the state of the Country and of the H. of C. infuriated as both have been by the reason of a democratic administration put out of question any attempt to make an anti reform—or even a moderate reform administration even if the King etc.'— Did it put out of the question the attempt to make an administration with a plan of reform if not moderate absolutely, yet moderate relatively to the present Bill? I say decidedly not—very many even of the existing House of Commons who have voted for the bill having seen its dangerous tendency and condoned it utterly in their hearts. And if the conservative party had been manfully and fearlessly headed by the Government, a strength might—and I think would have displayed itself, of which they who have looked at the question as Mr Goulburn has done appear to have no conception. When this ruinous Bill was first proposed, it would have been kicked out of the House of Commons by acclamation if a motion in that spirit had been made by Mr Peel—yet how soon was a change effected in the mind of that Body, when they found the people intoxicated with the sudden offer of political power to that extent. In like manner no inconsiderable degree of a counter movement would have appeared even in the House as now constituted, had the new Government boldly appealed to the great Body of people prepared to support them out of doors. The difficulty most insurmountable in its nature, (provided Mr Peel and others had been gifted with courage and fortitude) lies in the pledged word of the King—viz to what extent he was committed with Lord Grey, when he consented to the dissolution of the late Parliament. Pray look again at Mr G's Letter in the sentence following the one above remarked upon. 'The only alternative then, 'etc., the premises being not admitted the conclusion of course is rejected by all who take the view I do of the subject—'To such few of those could accede' etc.,— Well it is that they were few—And I own I am astonished that after the Duke of Wellington's protest,2 he could ever think of taking up a Government prepared to carry the Reform Bill and with such pg 527modification as would be acquiesced in by the House of C., if he means the House in its present temper. But did not the reduced majority on Ebrington's motion1 show the House to be mutable— and might it not have been expected to be much more so had the New Government bold[ly]2 and candidly appealed to the people for support? And after all could a manly resistance have put the King and the Constitution and the people in a worse position than Mr G. acknowledges they are brought to? Timidity has destroyed us. A King's honor is not to be stained—but when an error has been committed (which we will suppose in this case) is there no retracting? Is an ancient people to be condemned to generations of Misery because a King may have made an ill- advised promise? I put this only as a question but am prepared with the answer. My dear Brother—adieu—


[M. W. writes]

Doro will write to John as soon as she can announce the arrival of his Parcel—Sister has been up 5 hours today, and was not much tired, but she is at this moment suffering somewhat from flatulence—

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 John Wordsworth, C. W.'s son, had left Rydal to return to Cambridge on 13 Mar. See L. 690 above.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. W. W.'s son John.
Editor’s Note
3 John Fleming of Rayrigg, W. W.'s old school-friend (see EY, p. 343; MY ii. 427), had been vicar of Brigham, 1813–14.
Editor’s Note
1 Henry Goulburn, M.P. for Cambridge University.
Editor’s Note
2 Immediately after the second reading of the Bill in the Lords on 14 Apr., Wellington had tabled his objections to it in principle on the grounds that it undermined the rights of the monarchy and the influence of the landed interest. He was supported by Lord Lonsdale among others. The Protest was, according to The Courier for 17 Apr., 'false in position, inconclusive in argument, and weak in words', and destroyed his credibility as the head of an alternative government. Peel, while accepting the need for some measure of reform, thought it dishonourable for anti-reformers to pass the Bill as the price of office, and refused to co-operate with Wellington in the formation of an alternative ministry. See Norman Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 1972, pp. 30–4.
Editor’s Note
1 On 11 May the House of Commons carried by a majority of 80 Lord Ebrington's motion regretting the resignation of Grey's ministry, upholding the principles of the Bill, and calling for the return of a ministry that would carry it into effect. Lord Ebrington, later 2nd Earl Fortescue (1783–1861), was M.P. for Devonshire.
Editor’s Note
2 MS. torn.
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