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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  • Hitherto unpublished.

  • Rydale Mount October 1st.
  • [1814]

My Lord,

The enclosed Paper contains an extract from a Letter of my Friend Mrs Clarkson, just returned from Paris, where she has been residing with her Husband a month. It relates to the disposition ofpg 156the French Government and some of the leading persons in France in respect to the slave Trade; and if your Lordship has not received information to the same effect from higher authority the perusal of it will, I think, interest you.

I look forward with pleasure to the thought of another visit to your hospitable Mansion at Lowther, with respectful remembrances to Lady Lonsdale, and the young Ladies of your Lordship's family,

I have the honour to be

  • my Lord          
  • your Lordship's        
  • obliged and faithful servant      
  • Wm Wordsworth   


The very day before we left England Mr Wilberforce entreated Mr C. not to see any of his old friends and to be very cautious of writing or printing anything in his own name. The first interview with the Duke of Wellington took off this interdict which I felt to be very heavy indeed. The Duke said that in an interview which he had had with the King of France the night before, the King had said that there was a party in France who believed the Slave Trade essential to their interests; that these persons, if any attempt were made to alter the Law as it now stood, might become clamorous; and the people of France being entirely ignorant of the subject, might join in the clamour; and he added emphatically 'I can no more abolish the trade against the will of the people of France than the King of England can continue it against the will of the people of England.' But Lord Wellington understood from the King that he would be glad to find a current of popular feeling excited in the country strong enough to enable him to abolish the trade immediately. Accordingly Lord Wellington directed Mr C. to go to work in our good old English fashion. He reprinted the short address to the potentates and summary of the evidence and distributed it to all the persons in power at Paris, accompanied by a letter signed with his own name. We found also in Paris a copy of a translation of his own Impolicy which by this time is reprinted and in the hands of every member of the legislature of France. When this work was presented to the censor he returned it in twelve hours (they usually keep a work of this size three days). Not a word was altered and the censor desired that Mr C. should be informed privately that he wished to see the work in circulation in every town in France. During the last week persons (entire strangers) were coming inpg 157 daily to offer their assistance; and these persons every way respectable, some of very high rank. I am persuaded from what I saw, that it would be as easy to establish a Committee for the Abolition in Paris, as in any town in England.

Talleyrand is in favour of immediate abolition and our Government will certainly do their utmost at the Congress.

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