Jump to Content
Jump to chapter

William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Alan G. Hill (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 4: The Later Years: Part I: 1821–1828 (Second Revised Edition)

Find Location in text

Main Text

pg 347173. W. W. to LORD LONSDALE

  • Address: The Earl of Lonsdale, Charles Street, London.
  • Postmark: 9 May, 1825,
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Lonsdale MSS.
  • K(—), LY i. 206 (—).

  • Rydal Mount
  • May 5th [1825]

My Lord,

Excuse me for troubling you with the Enclosed1—it is a concern of my own, and I do not like to call upon Mr Rogers to pay double Postage. Pray have the goodness to direct your Servant to put it into the Twopenny Post.

I am glad of this occasion to say a few words to your Lordship on the Catholic Question. It rejoices me to see the Lowther names and Lowther interest in the minority.2 I have not seen the Reports of the Evidence before Parliament,3 only certain Extracts in Newspapers, and passages quoted in the Debates. But whatever may be the weight of such evidence, it cannot overbalance in my mind all that I have read in history, all that I have heard in conversation, and all that I have observed in life; besides, as far as I can learn it is in a great measure ex parte. But were not this so, I must own that in a complex and subtle religious question as this is, I should reckon little of formal and dressed up testimony, even upon oath, compared with what occurs in the regular course of life, or escapes from people in unguarded moments. Little value then can be put upon Committee Evidence contradicting as here men's opinions in their natural overflow. From what may be observed among the Irish and English Romanists, it is justly to be dreaded that there is a stronger disposition to approximate to their Brethren in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Elsewhere than to unite in faith and Practise pg 348with us Protestants. Not long ago, for instance, application was made in the case of the Jerninghams1 of Norfolk for one of their Family being admitted to Trin: Coll. Cam; but it was first asked whether his attendance at Chapel would be required; the answer being yes, the Youth was not sent, their Priest would not sanction the step. This I had from the Master.

The Question is a most melancholy one, and I shall ever regard the division in the Cabinet in favor of concession, as the principal cause of the boldness with which the claims are now urged, and therefore one of the greatest misfortunes that has befallen this Country for some time. The Majority of the people of England are against concession, as would have been proved had they been fairly appealed to, which was not done because the Laity were unwilling to take the lead in a matter which is (notwithstanding all that has been said to the Contrary) eminently ecclesiastical, and the Clergy are averse from coming forward except in a corporate Capacity, least they should be accused of stirring up the people for selfish views: and thus the real opinion of the nation is not embodied.

I ventured to originate a Petition from the two Parishes of Grasmere and Windermere, including the Town of Ambleside; there were not half a dozen dissenting Voices—the names were annexed to the Petition from Kendal.2

I see that Mr Satterthwaite3 has closed his long career. I hear nothing of the Dr. and am afraid he is unwell, as I begged him to write some time since.

  • Ever my Lord most faithfully       
  • your Lordship's obliged Servnt    
  • Wm Wordsworth  

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 On the second reading of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill (see L. 158 above) on 21 Apr. There were four 'Lowther' members in the House of Commons; Lord Lowther and Col. Lowther representing Westmorland, Lord Lonsdale's brother Sir John Lowther, Bart, (see MY ii. 581), one of the members for Cumberland, and John Henry Lowther his son, later 2nd Bart., who represented Cockermouth, 1818–26.
Editor’s Note
3 A petition against the Bill to suppress the Catholic Association (see L. 158 above) had been drawn up, and a deputation, which included O'Connell, took it to London. When the Roman Catholic Relief Bill (in which O'Connell may have had a hand) was introduced, committees of both Houses were set up to inquire into the state of Ireland, and O'Connell appeared before them to set out his views on tithes, education, the Orange societies, the condition of the peasantry, the electoral franchise, the endowment of the clergy, and the administration of justice.
Editor’s Note
1 The family name of the Lords Stafford, of Cossy Hall, nr. Norwich, who were connected with the Dukes of Norfolk. The 1st Baron Stafford was found guilty of treason on the evidence of Titus Oates, forfeited all his honours, and was beheaded in 1680. His descendant, Sir George William Stafford Jerningham, 7th Bart. (1771–1851), obtained the reversal of the attainder of his ancestor in 1824, and successfully laid claim to the barony of Stafford the following year.
Editor’s Note
2 Presented in the House of Commons by Lord Lowther on 25 Apr.
Editor’s Note
3 Probably Col. J. C. Satterthwaite (see EY, p. 616) of Papcastle, nr. Cockermouth, Dr. Satterthwaite's father; formerly M.P. for Cockermouth, Carlisle, and then Haslemere.
logo-footer Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Access is brought to you by Log out