William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 7: The Later Years: Part IV: 1840–1853 (Second Revised Edition)

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1609. W. W. to VISCOUNT MAHON

  • MS. Stanhope MSS., Chevening. Hitherto unpublished.

  • Rydal Mount
  • 19th April, 42

Dear Lord Mahon,

Many thanks for the Copy of your Speech, which I have read with much pleasure.1 There is only one point in which I differ from you, where you say, "Readers in truth were then only of two Classes. Books of devotion, Sermons, and Theology were assuredly eagerly sought after by no small part of the nation, notwithstanding the light and profligate habits which aversion to puritanism brought out and encouraged. But this is of no moment to the question which you have calmly and comprehensively and feelingly argued.—Did you happen to observe the confident and majestical manner, in which the Times delivered its opinion, declaring that the Author had no pretensions to a right in his works after publication; but it was expected that the Law should extend some protection as an inducement to the production of great literature; the measure, however, of that protection was to be the Minimum under which the Works were likely to be, or could be, produced. Now who is to be the judge of that? why, that selfish unfeeling abstraction, the Public; the very party who would have the Works, for nothing, if it could get them. This reminds me of a neighbour of mine, a common pg 328Carrier, who when he was reproached for hungering his Horses, replied that "Whips were cheaper than corn and Hay"—

Pray let the Clause in your Bill respecting Piracy be as efficient as possible. A few years back I went into a Booksellers shop, Picadilly, where I was unknown and asked if I could have a copy of Gagliniani's Edit: of Wordsworth's Poems.1—Yes—Could I have five?—yes—ten?—yes—100? yes, and so on till 500, with the same answer, adding as to the latter numbers, "give me only time."—

Let me repeat my thanks to you and your Coadjutors, small as the gain is, and believe me

  • dear Lord Mahon            
  • faithfully yours      
  • Wm Wordsworth

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 During the Committee stage of the Copyright Bill on 6 Apr. (see L. 1606 above). Mahon had set out to conciliate Macaulay and counter the objections he had raised, while trying to manoeuvre the House into granting some extension of the term. He left it to Sir Robert Inglis to put in a plea for protection for 'three illustrious living authors' (W. W., Campbell, and Southey).
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. Galignani's edition of 1828.
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