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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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MS. Lonsdale MSS., Record Office, The Castle, Carlisle. Hitherto unpublished.

Kendal. Janry 31st [1818]

My Lord,

The Committee are so convinced of the influence of Mr Isaac Wilson,2 that they have been exerting themselves to induce him to accept a Retainer. I have just had an interview with him myself,—on finding that he was somewhat piqued at having been overlooked. I hope I did not do wrong in stating to him that your Lordship had been under a mistake with regard to the number of Solicitors retained. This assurance gave him great pleasure; and he expressed his regret at not having known the fact sooner, but having been earnestly solicited by the opposite party, and having declined accepting a Retainer from them, giving an assurance that he would remain neuter, he thinks that he cannot in honour act otherwise. There appears to be no way in which his scruples can be removed except one which I fear is not practicable, his being at liberty to declare publicly what I confidentially imparted to him, that yourpg 420Lordship supposed a greater number of Solicitors to have been retained than actually have been so. But here is a matter of great delicacy. This, as every other cause, will suffer from its adherents not sacrificing personal feelings to general interests. Mr Johnson is most hearty, zealous and active but he is jealous of Mr Wilson and dislikes him. Should a declaration be made by your Lordship to the chairman of the Committee that you were mistaken as to the number of Solicitors retained, this would subject Messrs Fell and Johnson to unpleasant imputations. They are both highly respectable men; but, alas, not superior to those injurious influences which I have alluded to. Your Lordship will consider this matter;—not less than forty Freeholders have voluntarily consulted Mr Wilson how he would advise them to vote; so he says.

The Editorship of the Kendal paper has passed into other hands, those of Mr Harrison a Dissenting Minister.1 He is inwardly against us, which is much to be regretted. The bias of his mind sufficiently appears, in the paper of this day, in the account he has given of Mr James Brougham's2 reception. I am upon very friendly terms with Mr H. and could influence him, I believe, to a certain extent; but my situation requires a degree of caution which diminishes my power.3

The enclosed4 was written by me yesterday, and got into the Kendal Paper by the exertions of Mr Johnson; I could not appear in the matter myself.

I am obliged to go to Rydal this day; but I have communicated with Mr Wilson of Abbot Hall, and can return hither at short notice.

pg 421I have written this day to Lord Lowther, at some length.1

Be so good as to inform me of the state of Lady Mary's health.

  • With best wishes        
  • I have the honor to be     
  • faithfully your Lordship's   
  • Wm Wordsworth.      

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 See List of Attorneys in previous letter.
Editor’s Note
1 The Revd. John Harrison (1761–1833), Unitarian Minister of the Market Place Chapel, where James Patrick—original of the Wanderer in The Excursion—was buried. W. W. sometimes attended services there when staying with Thomas Cookson, a Trustee of the Chapel, and so came to know Harrison. See Papers, Letters, & Journals of William Pearson, ed. his widow, 1863, p. 13; F. Nicholson and E. Axon, The Older Non-Conformity in Kendal, Kendal, 1915, ch. xxix.
Editor’s Note
2 James Brougham (1780–1833), brother of Henry Brougham and his staunch supporter at elections: first M.P. for Kendal after the Reform Bill. According to the Kendal Chronicle for 31 Jan., he arrived on 26 Jan. to announce his brother as the new candidate, and was chaired along the Highgate to the accompaniment of music and the ringing of church bells.
Editor’s Note
3 As holder of a government office, the Distributorship of Stamps, W. W. was precluded from taking an open part in the election campaign, but his activities behind the scenes soon became known. See L. 485 below.
Editor’s Note
4 A letter in the Kendal Chronicle for 31 Jan. signed 'A Friend to Consistency', dated Westmorland, 30 Jan. 1818: reprinted a week or so later as a handbill. It appealed to freeholders not to split or 'plump' their votes between one or other of the Lowther candidates and Brougham, as this would give a disproportionate advantage to the new candidate.
Editor’s Note
1 This letter does not seem to have survived.
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