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William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 6: The Later Years: Part III: 1835–1839 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • MS. untraced.
  • Bookseller's Catalogue.

[In M. W.'s hand]

  • Ambleside
  • 18 February [1839]

… I must frankly tell you, that eminent Writers, whether in verse or in prose, are of all Men in my judgment, those who stand the least in need of such local testimonials of public pg 662admiration and gratitude as you are anxious to obtain for them; their books, if they survive, are their living, moving, and speaking monument—and if they do not, the cause must lie in their want of the vital principle of genius or truth …

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Editor’s Note
3 Henry Austen Driver (b. 1790), minor poet and admirer of Byron and Moore, published The Arabs: a tale, in four Cantos, in 1825, and Harold de Burun, a semi-dramatic poem, in six scenes, (R.M. Cat., no. 600), in 1835. A native of Cambridge, he moved later to Islington, where he gave lectures; but his last years are shrouded in obscurity. In 1838 Driver published Byron and 'The Abbey', 'a few remarks upon the poet, elicited by the rejection of his statue by the Dean of Westminster, with suggestions for the erection of a national edifice to contain the monuments of our great men'. He drew attention to the double rebuff Byron had suffered at the hands of the Abbey authorities, first when his body was refused burial there when it was brought back from Missolonghi, and later when Thorwaldsen's statue was rejected; and he proposed that a national pantheon should be erected, in which Byron should occupy the first place. 'What have such men as Southey and Wordsworth to fear? Byron and they are too secure of their fame to be prejudiced by each other. They, also, are too high-minded, too generous, not to assist in raising a memorial to that genius, whose lustre, mingling with their own, has helped to characterize an era as one of peculiar splendour.' (p. 30). Thorwaldsen's statue of Byron had been commissioned in 1829 by a committee presided over by John Cam Hobhouse, but was refused for the Abbey by Dean Ireland when it was completed in 1834, and it lay in the Custom house vaults until 1842, when it was again rejected, by Ireland's successor, Dean Turton. In 1843, soon after Whewell had suceeded C. W. as Master of Trinity, a move was made to present it to the College, and Whewell accepted it on condition that it was placed in the Library, and not in the ante-chapel as was first proposed. But W. W. remained opposed to any such mark of approval for Byron. See his letter to C. W. jnr., 29 Aug. 1843 (in next volume). A memorial to Byron was not dedicated in Westminster Abbey until 8 May 1969. See John Cam Hobhouse, Lord Broughton, Recollections of a Long Life, 6 vols., 1910–11, iii, 277, 279–80; iv. 2; vi. 93, 125, 127, 186: A. P. Stanley, Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey, 1868, p. 300: Mrs. Stair Douglas, Life of William Whewell, D.D., pp. 292–3; and NQ, 6th series, iv (1881), 421–3.
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