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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)

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  • Address: The Lord Viscount Lowther, Spring Gardens, London.
  • Postmark: 20 Apr. 1822.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Lonsdale MSS.
  • K (—). LY i. 66(—).

  • Rydal Mount
  • 19th April 1822

My dear Lord Lowther,

It is a long time since any communication passed between us; nothing has occurred in this neighbourhood which was likely to interest you. The 'hardness of the times'—a phrase with which you must be pretty well tired—urges me to mention to you a case in which I am not a little interested, and Mrs W. still more so, as the Party is her Brother. To come at once to the point; in the wide circle of your acquaintance, does any one want a land agent, of mature experience in agriculture, and who can be recommended as a thoroughly conscientious and honourable man, of excellent temper, and mild manners. Mr Thomas Hutchinson the person in question was brought up to farming, under his uncle Mr Hutchinson of Sockbum, in Durham—a person of much note as being a principal pg 121teacher in the improvements in breeding cattle, for which Durham and the adjoining part of Yorkshire have become so famous. About 1808, knowing that Wales was backward in Agriculture, he took a Farm, under Mr Frankland Lewes1 in Radnorshire, and since that period has been a leading agriculturist in that quarter, to its great improvement; but I am sorry to say that he has suffered from the change of times, to the degree that a private fortune of not less than £14,000 has been reduced so as to determine him to retire from farming, if he could find a situation such as I have named. During the first years of his lease, which was 14 years, he sunk large sums in improvements; and when he looked for his return, the Times changed'; and notwithstanding his judgement, his prudence, and his care, he must have gone to ruin, if it had not been for his private resources. Mr Lewes, who I remember said in Parliament,2 in speaking against the Com bill, that he was prepared to reduce his rents, has constantly refused to do so in this case; or to relinquish the lease till now, when it is nearly expired. He had a fat tenant, and has kept him by force, till he is becoming lean as a church-mouse. Mr Lewes conditionally remitted the landlord the amount of income tax, when the Property tax was abolished.

I must add, that I have known Mr Hutchinson from his childhood, and therefore can speak confidently to his moral merits, his daily habits, and the soundness of his principles as a good subject; and am certain that he is not reduced to this situation by any fault of his own. He is 47 years of age,3 prudently did not marry early in life. His eldest child4 is about 8 years of age; he has still enough left for his own needs, but he is naturally anxious for the sake of his children.

You will excuse this long story; but, if you should have an opportunity of serving this excellent man in the way in which he wishes to be, he would prove an invaluable servant.

I called on Mr Barton5 yesterday to take my Oath6 but he was too ill to see me—he is going fast, I fear.

Pray, how are they going on in France? Courtenay,7 the Barrister, pg 122took a bed with us a few nights ago, while rambling through these hills, between the Lancaster and Appleby Assizes. He talked with pleasure of having seen you in Paris; and of the information you had given him about the state of affairs.1 Brougham, he seemed to think, was mortified at not being the Manchester Cause at Lancaster.2

We are all rejoiced to have such good accounts of Lord Lonsdale's eyes. Believe me, dear Lord Lowther

  • ever faithfully your          
  • obliged friend and Servant     
  • Wm Wordsworth   

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Thomas Frankland Lewis. See L. 46 above.
Editor’s Note
2 W. W. seems to be referring to the debate on Agricultural Distress on 30 May 1820, but his recollection of Frankland Lewis's remarks on the Corn Bill of 1816 does not quite tally with the Hansard report.
Editor’s Note
3 Thomas Hutchinson was in fact 48.
Editor’s Note
4 Thomas (1815–1903).
Editor’s Note
5 The Revd. William Barton (1748–1823), rector of Windermere for 43 years. See also MY ii. 468.
Editor’s Note
6 As a magistrate. See MY ii. 521, 532, 539. Up to this date W. W. was apparently still willing to qualify, though he finally dropped the idea.
Editor’s Note
7 Philip Courtenay, K.C. (1782–1842), barrister, and (later) W. W.'s
Editor’s Note
1 There was widespread disaffection among the French provincial garrisons at this time, and interest was focused in February on the insurrection at Saumur of the Napoleonic General Jean-Baptiste Berton, who was arrested in June and executed later in the year. This, and the threat of war between Russia and Turkey in the Near East, had depressed the French funds, in which, as will emerge later (see L. 78 below) W. W. had invested.
Editor’s Note
2 A legal action arising out of the 'Manchester Massacre' of 16 Aug. 1819 (see MY ii. 553), which opened on 4 Apr. It was nominally an action brought against four of the cavalrymen by one of the victims, Thomas Redford, to recover damages for injury; but it was really aimed at procuring a full investigation of the whole affair. On 9 Apr. a verdict was given for the defendants, on the grounds of the illegality of the meeting at St. Peter's Fields and the imminent danger it presented to life and property. 'The most incredulous must now be convinced', remarked the Courier on 12 Apr., 'that the Manchester Yeomanry had been basely calumniated by a seditious Press.' But the Kendal Chronicle of the following day condemned the verdict: 'Thus may the subjects of this realm be cut, maimed, or injured; thus may our laws and liberties be violated with impunity by Yeomanry Cavalry … ' Henry Brougham might have been expected to have taken part in this controversy, but he had been ill and absent from Parliament. But he did appear briefly at Lancaster on 1 Apr. to defend a publisher prosecuted at the instigation of the Constitutional Association for seditious libel.
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