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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  • Address: The Revd Wm Jackson, Queen's Coll, Oxford [In M W. W.'s hand]
  • Stamp: Ashby de la Zouch.
  • MS. Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
  • Hitherto unpublished.

  • Coleorton Hall
  • Nov 26th—1827

My dear Friend,

A Copy of your Letter has been forwarded to me at this place, where I arrived better than £a] week ago and met Mrs W from Herefordshire, well, and bringing pretty good accounts of Dora though she had been labouring under a severe cold. Her appetite however is good, and her strength improved accordingly—

I congratulate you on the improvement of your own health and can enter into your feelings respecting a College Life. But let me pg 553beg of you to be slow to return to Whitehaven—it is too burthen-some a duty for your bodily strength—Now for the point on which you do me the honor of referring to my Judgement—It should seem that in ordinary circumstances, one would vote for the Person most likely to serve the University,1 or if not much is to be expected in this way, for him who would do it most honor, while he was obviously himself raised by the distinction; and this I think would be a feather in any man's Cap, except like the Duke of Gloucester,2 he were of the royal Family; on him the distinction struck me as thrown away; nor was his personal character such as could reflect honor on a learned Body—But these are not ordinary circumstances, and the election is likely to be made a party test; and upon that view of the case I will say a few words, premising that to the personal character of the Individual named, there appears to be no objection. Of that of the Duke of Buckingham,3 however, you probably know much more than I. Lord Dudley4 is a Bachelor, and immensely rich, with more money perhaps at command than any one in England; were he inclined to be munificent he might do great things for the University—but this is neither the taste of the Age nor likely to be his humour, for he is said to be mean if not avaricious. He is vain, I think, but obviously not wanting talents. Lord Colchester's5 fortune, I would suppose, is very small for his rank, but as a Scholar he is distinguished, and as a constitutional enlightened Patriot, he appears to have decidedly the advantage over the others. And on this point I should be inclined mainly to rest. As to mere party, there is little satisfaction to be had by looking at any side. [? Indeed] the old Tories are so anxious to get back into power that they would make great sacrifices for the purpose, and we see what the other side have done to get into, and to keep their places.6 But omitting all consideration of the patriotism or moral worth of the several parties, I think you are agreed with me that the political opinions, principles if you will, of the Outs, are better, that is safer pg 554and sounder, than those of the Ins. Now if the election for Chancellor is to be a test of the Opinion of the University of Oxford upon this question, I should like to see proof of its coincidence with what I take to be yours, and know to be my own, and on this account also, unless I see reason for change, I should vote for Lord Colchester; if I am not mistaken in supposing that he is averse to concession to the Romanists, to rash or hasty reform in parliament or of any kind, and to schemes of education pursued without due regard to religion, and respect for the Constitution—The question of education, and the dissemination of knowledge as now patronized by those who have most influence is of infinite moment, and much do I wish to see it taken up by some one capable of treating it like a Statesman and a Philosopher—I have now said all that strikes me on the subject, I wish it were more worthy of your regard.

Lady Beaumont bears her loss with admirable resignation; her resources are employment in improving this place, and religious meditation, doing what good she can in the neighbourhood. Mrs W is quite well, and begs her affectionate remembrances. Believe me ever

  • faithfully your friend     
  • W Wordsworth   

We hope to see Dr Wordsworth soon, in a few days—You will I think have no objection to my asking his opinion on the Chancellorship. If any thing important arises out of my consulting him I shall write again. Pray let me hear from you.—


We shall stay here about a fortnight longer, and then I accompany Mrs W into Herefordshire—

Thank you for thinking about John. As to Willy I am sadly at a loss.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 i.e. the University of Oxford, as Chancellor, in succession to Lord Grenville.
Editor’s Note
2 Chancellor of Cambridge. See MY ii. 648.
Editor’s Note
3 Richard Brydges Chandos Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776–1839), of Stowe, Bucks.: nephew of Lord Grenville.
Editor’s Note
4 John William Ward, 4th Viscount Dudley (see L. 158 above), had been Foreign Secretary in Canning's recent administration, and was created Earl of Dudley on 24 Sept.
Editor’s Note
5 Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester (1757–1829), Chief Secretary of Ireland (1801), Speaker of the House of Commons (1802–17), and M.P. for Oxford University (1806): acknowledged to be one of the great Speakers.
Editor’s Note
6 After Canning's death on 8 Aug., Lord Goderich (see L. 330 below) presided over a short-lived coalition of Canningites and Whigs until the Following 9 Jan., when Wellington was commissioned to form a ministry.
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