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The following letter from Wordsworth to Mr. Benjamin Dockray, Lancaster, gives his views on the question of slavery. The year is uncertain :

"Rydal Mount, April 25.

MY DEAR SIR,-Your Egeria arrived on the morning when I was setting off to visit my son, with whom I stayed nearly three weeks. This must be my apology for not thanking you for the valuable present somewhat earlier. The strain of your thoughts is I think excellent, and the expression everywhere suitable to the thought. I have to thank you also for a most valuable paper on Colonial slavery. In your view of this important subject I entirely coincide. Fanaticism is the disease of these times as much or more than of any other; fanaticism is set, as it has always been, whether moral, religious, or political, upon attainment of its ends with disregard of the means. In this question there are three parties, -the slave, the slave-owner, and the British people. As to the first, it might be submitted to the consideration of the owner whether, in the present state of society, he can, as a matter of private conscience, retain his property in the slave, after he is convinced that it would be for the slave's benefit, civil, moral, and religious, that he should be emancipated. Whatever pecuniary loss might, under these circumstances, attend emancipation, it seems that a slave-owner, taking a right view of the case, ought to be prepared to undergo it. It is probable, however, that one of the best assurances which could be given of the slave being likely to make a good use of his liberty would be found in his ability and disposition to make a recompense for the sacrifice should the master, from the state of his affairs, feel himself justified in accepting a recompense. But by no means does it follow, from this view

* Egeria was published in 1840, which gives (approximately) the date of this letter.

of individual cases, that the third party, the people of England, who through their legislature have sanctioned and even encouraged slavery, have a right to interfere for its destruction by a sweeping measure, of which an equivalent to the owner makes no part. This course appears to me unfeeling and unjust. . . .

What language, in the first place, would it hold out to the slave? that the property in him had been held by unqualified usurpation and injustice on the part of his master alone; which would be as much as to say, We have delivered him over to you, and as no other party was to blame, deal with your late oppressors as you like. Surely such a proceeding would also be a wanton outrage upon the feelings of the masters, and poverty, distress, and disorder could not but ensue.

They who are most active in promoting entire and immediate Abolition do not seem sufficiently to have considered that slavery is not in itself, at all times, and under all circumstances, to be deplored. In many states of society it has been a check upon worse evils; so much inhumanity has prevailed among men, that the best way of protecting the weak from the powerful has often been found in what seems at first sight a monstrous arrangement-viz. in one man having a property in many of his fellows. Some time ago many persons were anxious to have a Bill brought into Parliament to protect inferior animals from the cruelty of their masters. It has always appeared to me that such a law would not have the effect intended, but would increase the evil. The best surety for an uneducated man behaving with care and kindness to his beast lies in the sense of the uncontrolled property which he possesses in him. Hence a livelier interest, and a more efficient responsibility to his own conscience, than could exist were he made accountable for his conduct to law. I mention this simply by way of illustration, for no man can deplore more than I do a state of slavery in itself. I do not only

deplore, but I abhor it, if it could be got rid of without the introduction of something worse, which I much fear would not be the case with respect to the West Indies, if the question be dealt with in the way many excellent men are so eagerly set upon. I am, dear Sir, very sincerely your obliged,




WORDSWORTH'S correspondence with his publisher, Mr. Moxon, was extensive, and much of it is extremely interesting. There is sufficient continuity in his letters written during the years 1840 to 1845 to warrant the publication of consecutive extracts from them, rather than the breaking up of the series by the introduction of other matter.

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"Rydal, 18th Jan. 1840. MY DEAR MR. MOXON,- Mr. W. has been a week with us taking sketches with a view to the illustration of my poems. . . . He has done pretty well. In particular, he has made a very good drawing in perspective of the interior of our dining and sitting-room. It has a most picturesque appearance, and I cannot but think would be acceptable to those who take an interest in my writings. He has also done the outside of the house and the surrounding landscape.

I set my face entirely against the publication of Mr. Field's MSS. I ought to have written to him several weeks ago, but feeling as I did-being truly sensible of the interest he took in my character and writings, and grateful to him for having bestowed so much time upon the subjects-I could not bring myself to tell him what I have with all frankness told to you.' Mr. Field has been very little in England, I imagine, for above twenty years; and, consequently, is not aware that


But compare Wordsworth's letter to Field, p. 386.

much the greater part of his labour would only answer the purpose of reviving forgotten things and exploded opinions. Besides, there are in his notions things that were personally disagreeable-not to use a harsher term-to myself and those about me; and if such an objection did not lie against the publication, it is enough that the thing is superfluous. In the present state of this country in general, how could this kind-natured friend then be deceived into the thought that criticism and particulars so minute could attract attention. even from a few? . . .

Hartley has positively asserted to my son and another gentleman that he considers his part of the work at an end. True, he said, I could go on for ever; but 60 pages-20 more than Jonson are scarcely enough. I write this in consequence of your saying in your last: 'The introduction to Massinger is still unfinished.' Perhaps all is right by this time.

Murray used to say that advertising always paid. So it might with him, but with old books like mine, I should imagine that advertisements frequently repeated in the forthcoming of a new edition would not answer well; and therefore I am against it rather. I leave the decision to your friendly judgment.-Faithfully yours, WM. WORDSWORTH."

"February 24, 1840.

MY DEAR MR. MOXON,-Not being able to meet with H. C.* immediately on receipt of your letter, I wrote him a note a couple of days after, and told him its contents. I have since seen him, and done all I could. And now let me give you, in respect to him, a piece of advice, once for all, viz. that you never engage with him for any unperformed work, when either time or quantity is of importance. Poor fellow he has no resolve; in fact, nothing that can be called rational will or command of himself, as to what he will do or not do; of course,


Hartley Coleridge.

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