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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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pg 467496. W. W. to LORD LONSDALE

  • Address: The Earl of Lonsdale, Charles Street, Berkley Square, London.
  • Postmark: 5 May 1818.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Lonsdale MSS., Record Office, The Castle, Carlisle. Hitherto unpublished.

  • Rydale Mount
  • May 2nd 1818

My Lord,

Permit me to recur to Mr Curwen's declaration to Sir James G.1 that he was forced upon the part he has taken in the Westnd Contest although I have no new evidence to bring forth upon the subject. He must allude, I suppose, to his public appearance at the London Tavern, as a supporter of Mr B.2 He could not be forced to act as he did in passing through Westd—in his way to London. I mentioned3 his harangue in the Kitchen of the Salutation Inn at Ambleside, his interview with Mr Abbot, the other Editor of the Kendal Chron,4 the Paper he wrote for that journal in Mr Abbot's presence, and I specified what that paper was.—It has struck me since, that I ought to have been particular as to the Evidence on which I reported these things. Mr Jackson, our Rector, is my authority for the first, (and also for the Letter which Doctor Lawson wrote to Mr Strickland,5 that Letter having been forwarded to Mr Jackson, by Sir Daniel le Fleming). As to the offensive Letter or Paper pretending to be dated from Askham; Mr Cookson of Kendal, informed me that he being in company with several Persons, one of the Party said that he had been with Abbot who was boasting what a clever Man Mr Curwen was, that he (Abbot) had been drinking wine with Mr C. who wrote in his presence a Paper for the Kendal Chronicle etc. A few days after, Mr Cookson's Son was informed by a Printer's Lad of the Office that Mr Curwen was the author of the Letter, dated Askham; so that Mr Cookson had not the least doubt that this obnoxious Letter was the Paper, which Abbot had spoken of as written in his presence. On the 21st Febry appeared two Letters in the Chronicle, signed, a Friend to Truth which I wrote; and in one I animadverted with some severity on a passage of the Askham Letter, reflecting on Col. Lowther. This was replied to, but not till the 14th of March; a plain proof that the writer, who continued to pg 468date from Askham, was not then Resident in the North; as, from the style of his Letter, it is evident that he was much nettled by my strictures, and would, of course, have replied to them immediately had his opportunities allowed him to do so.—I have already mentioned1 that Mr Curwen's Son, and Mr Bird, were the only Persons that accompanied Mr James Brougham when he canvassed this neighbourhood. Mr H. Curwen addressed the Kendal Mob—and, with the exception of Mr Barton,2 I know no Person about Windermere, over whom Mr Curwen can be supposed to have influence, or with whom he is intimate, who is not against the Lowther interest.—Your Lordship will have the kindness to excuse this tedious Review of my knowledge of the Case; but some years ago Mr Curwen courted my society a good deal; and I used to see him, as a neighbour, occasionally.—He took also some pains to recommend a Brother of Mrs Wordsworth's, who had been brought up to farming, to a situation under an agricultural Friend of his, Mr Champion Dymoke,3 which I regarded as a favor done to myself. I would therefore be hurt, had I made any assertion to his prejudice on slight grounds of evidence, or without a justifying cause.—

I believe that we are gaining ground in many directions—you will smile at my illustration of this, by a dialogue which took place the other day at Ambleside, between an Apothecary's Apprentice, and a Chimney-Sweeper's Boy.—Boy, 'What, you have little to do with elections here?'—Apprentice, 'We have had a good deal—how are they at Kendal?'—Boy, 'We were all Blues, but they're turning; My Master promised his Vote to Brougham, but he'll give it to the Lowthers—he says, he doesn't like such black-guard work!'—Mr Brougham's rambles, I am persuaded, have not done him any service, upon the whole, but the contrary.

I have the honor of your Lordship's of the 28th, with the Bill concerning the public charities.4 I am happy to hear from your Lordship that it is likely to be treated by Parliament as it deserves. Much credit is claimed for Mr. B. for his conduct in this matter; it pg 469will be proper, therefore, that the character of the proposed Bill should be laid open to the Westd Yeomen and gentry, which, when the New Kendal Paper shall come out, I will attempt to do, unless some Person better qualified undertakes it. Mr Brougham is believed to have written in the Edinburgh Review those panegyrics on Mr Lancaster's system,1 the ignorance folly and cruelty of which were most ably exposed by Mr Southey.2 Those articles of the Review and this Bill may go together, as settling for ever the question of Mr Brougham's incompetence to legislate on such subjects. I am ashamed of the appearance of this Letter;

  • ever faithfully your Lordship's      
  • friend and servnt     
  • W. Wordsworth  


My eyes are much better.

Your Lordship's Friends in Westd are glad of your declining to support the proposed Grant for the Princes. There is scarcely any part of the conduct of Government which I have found so difficult to defend (or indeed which I have been so little inclined to defend) as the grant to Prince Leopold.3 His former situation, his Youth, and his having no child to succeed to the Crown, makes the annuity of so large an amount, a Thorn in the Loyalty of the Country. But Mr Brougham has here no advantage over us, for he both voted and spoke in favor of that settlement.

It is much to be regretted that Mr B. should have meddled with the Reform of Charitable Schools etc.—there are great abuses in this department; but the correction of them must be set about very differently.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Sir James Graham, Bart. (1753–1825), of Kirkstall, Yorks.: M.P. for Cockermouth, 1802–5 and 1807–12, and thereafter for Carlisle.
Editor’s Note
2 J. C. Curwen had presided at the Dinner on 21 Feb.
Editor’s Note
4 i.e. William Abbot, editor before Harrison.
Editor’s Note
2 The Revd. W. Barton of Windermere.
Editor’s Note
3 Lewis Dymoke (1763–1820) of Scrivelsby Court, Lincs., hereditary Grand Champion of England, a title he claimed to inherit from the Lords Marmion. In July 1814 he unsuccessfully laid claim to this ancient Barony before the House of Lords.
Editor’s Note
4 Since the appointment of his Select Committee on the Education of the Poor in 1816, Brougham had widened his investigations into abuses in the administration of educational charities. Early in 1818 he introduced a Bill to set up a commission of inquiry into all public charities, but the powers of this commission were drastically cut down by the Lords at the end of May. He returned to the attack in September. See New, op. cit., pp. 213 ff.
Editor’s Note
1 'Education of the Poor', Edinburgh Review, Nos. xxxiii and xxxvii (Nov. 1810 and Nov. 1811). See New, op. cit., pp. 200 ff.
Editor’s Note
2 'Bell and Lancaster's Systems of Education', Quarterly Review, No. xi (Oct. 1811): republished as The Origin, Nature, and Object of the New System of Education, 1812.
Editor’s Note
3 Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (1790–1865), uncle of Queen Victoria and King of the Belgians from 1831, had been granted an annuity of £50,000 for life on his marriage to the Princess Charlotte, the heiress presumptive, in 1816; and he continued to draw this after his wife's death in childbirth a year later.
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