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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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434. W. W. to HENRY PARRY2

  • Address: Henry Parry, Esq [in W's handy], Hamden Street, Somers Town, London [in a child's round hand].
  • MS. Cornell.
  • LY. iii. 576a, p. 1364.

Rydale Mount Ambleside Janry 17th 1817

My dear Sir,

I am almost ashamed to present myself before you after having suffered the favour of your last to remain so long unacknowledged. Your Letter and the Portrait of Bonaparte which it enclosed were both very acceptable; but being from home at the time when they arrived, I did not receive them till it was too late to give you a line of acknowledgement while you were on your Tour of Inspection: and this having been impossible I deferred writing with a hope that I might have something to say that would make my Letter worth Postage.—I have now occasion to write but on matter not very pleasant. Hall my Sub: at Kirby Lonsdale has been playing the Rogue; and has brought nearly £300 of money due from me to Government into Jeopardy. On the 4th Instant I was apprized that he had been arrested for a debt of upwards £100 and was on his way to Appleby Gaol. I met him at Kendal; I could not learn from him what he owed to Government; but I gathered that pg 357he had no property except Household furniture and Shop goods to cover the demand: and that his Furniture was advertized for Sale. Upon this, I was professionally advized to procure a Bill of sale from him—he granted me one with power to collect his debts—But for greater safety, as it was in the Power of one of Hall's Creditors to make him a bankrupt, I made an affidavit of Hall's debt at £300 and forwarded it to Mr Hanson Solicitor of the Stamp Office to ground the issuing of an extent, if there were a possibility of setting aside my Bill of sale, in case the Creditor who had it in his power to make him Bankrupt should think it adviseable to do so, in that case I prayed that an Extent might be issued immediately. I begged an answer to know what was proper to be done—This Letter was despatched Monday before last (it is now Thursday) and to my extreme surprize and vexation I have not yet heard from Mr Hanson, or the Board whom I begged him to consult, a syllable upon the subject. How is this to be explained?—I put the Letter with my own hands into the Post Off: at Kendal in the presence of Witnesses; and it is yet taken no notice of; and in the meanwhile I cannot but be under great uneasiness lest the Creditors knowing that an extent has not been issued should proceed to make Hall a Bankrupt, and the money which I have raised to cover the debt to me as Agent of the Crown, be recalled for the benefit of the Creditors; and all my pains and trouble (I was ten days about the business) be entirely thrown away.——You will wonder how Hall could owe so much so soon after balancing the annual account: the fact is that he had withheld and secreted the Legacy Receipts to a large amount; and it was not till after a long search I found them in an obscure part of his House, in what is called in this Country a Swill1—I had no sureties for Hall—unluckily for me! And if the Board by neglect or other wise, suffer the money which I have raised to be lost, or if I have been ill advized in the mode of proceeding mine will be a very hard case. For the debt has arisen from a rascality on the part of Hall which no vigilance of mine could prevent; and after I discovered it I did every thing in my power to repair the loss, proceeding in all things by the best professional advice which I could procure.——By the bye among Hall's effects were two or three old Books with Heads2 which I have lain aside, meaning to bid for them when their turn came to be sold; I had designed the Heads for you—But while my back was turned they were handed to the Auctioneer; and unluckily I missed them.—

pg 358There is a point relating to the emoluments of my Office in which I wish for the benefit of your [seal] Two coaches run between Leeds and Kendal and one or two between Kendal and Liverpool, none of these are licensed at Kendal, but several of the Proprietors (to whom the matter is of course indifferent) are very willing that one half of their duties should be paid at Kendal. I am at a loss what method to pursue to have this effected—The proprietor at Leeds who pays the duty of one of them has been written to on the subject, and he spoke to the Distributor himself but was told that it was usual to pay the duties where the Coach was licensed. This may be usual, but that it was not the invariable practice I have an instance in my own district; for there is a Coach which runs between Whenl and Carlisle which pays half at one place and half at the other.—Now it has struck me that if you would furnish me with the address of the Inspector of Coach Duties with an introduction, or leave to mention your name, he would point out to me the best manner of proceeding to effect this just and reasonable purpose; which would be a considerable object to this poor District——

There is yet another point in which you might serve me—I am desirous of Knowing the value of the several Distributions in the Kingdom; this might easily be effected by procuring a Copy of a List which I saw in the Stamp Off: of the [? sums paid] by them on account of the income tax. Could you procure me a Copy of one of these Lists, or point out how I might acquire it? It is of consequence to facilitate my attaining the object which you know I have in view.2—I hope you and your Sisters continue well—It is not unlikely that I may be in Town early this Spring, if I am I shall certainly find you out——You will perceive how much I rely upon your friendly disposition, when I trouble you with the above tedious account, and these requests. But I know you will be glad to serve me, and be assured if on my part I can make any return I shall be glad to do it. My sisters are from home. My Wife is well and begs her kindest regards and best to yourself and sisters. Most truly yours

Wm. Wordsworth  

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 An Inspector of Stamps. See L. 308 above. This letter well illustrates the various problems W. encountered in connection with his office as Distributor of Stamps.
Editor’s Note
1 A kind of basket made of strips of oak or willow.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. engravings.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. Whitehaven.
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