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PERHAPS the most important work which Wordsworth wrote at Allan Bank was his essay on The Convention of Cintra. This essay is interesting, not so much from the particular opinions advanced in it in reference to the Convention, as from the light it casts on the moral judgment which Wordsworth formed on the political events of his day, and the wide and clear range of his vision into the principles which underlie party struggles and national rivalries. A study of this essay-and it deserves to be studied, not only for the wisdom it contains, but for the splendour of its form-will dispel the notion that Wordsworth was a mere recluse student of Nature, little interested in human affairs and the aspirations of oppressed nationalities. It was from a certain vantage ground, as a dweller amid the mountains away from the strife of parties, that he was best able to judge of these things.

Here, mighty Nature! in this school sublime,

I view the hopes and fears of struggling Spain.

To Miss Fenwick he said: "It would not be easy to conceive with what a depth of feeling I entered into the struggle carried on by the Spaniards for their deliverance from the usurped power of the French. Many times have gone from Allan Bank in Grasmere Vale, where we were then residing, to the Raise-Gap, as it is called, so late as two o'clock in the morning, to meet the carrier bringing the newspaper from Keswick. Imperfect traces of the state


of mind in which I then was may be found in my tract on the Convention of Cintra, as well as in the Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."

The facts were briefly these. Sir Arthur Wellesley had defeated the French at Vimiera, who had fallen back on Torres Vedras and Lisbon. They were completely in the power of the English, and Sir Hew Dalrymple was preparing to follow up the advantage; when the French, seeing that their case was hopeless, agreed to leave the country, provided they were allowed to land safely on the French coast, without loss either of arms or effects. A Convention to this effect was agreed to, and signed at Cintra. When it became known, the indignation in England was so great that newspapers appeared with mourning borders, and the Ministry of the day were compelled to try the generals who had agreed to it by court martial. They were, however, acquitted. It seems to me that, although the collapse of France at that time might have crippled its ambition, and brought Napoleon's career of aggrandisement to a speedier close, it was undoubtedly a good thing for England and her Allies, to be saved from the necessity of a protracted struggle, which would otherwise have undoubtedly gone on in Spain.

In writing to his friend Wrangham from Workington, on the 3rd April 1809, Wordsworth said: "Though I began to publish in a newspaper, viz., The Courier, an accidental loss of two or three sheets of the manuscript prevented me from going on in that mode of publication after two sections had appeared. The Pamphlet will be out, in less than a fortnight, entitled, at full length, 'Concerning the relations of Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal, to each other, and to the common enemy at this crisis, and specifically as affected by the Convention of Cintra; the whole brought to the test of those principles by which alone the independence and

freedom of nations can be preserved or recovered.' This is less a Title than a Table of Contents."

What a piece of

He spoke of the writing of this pamphlet, however, as a debt which he owed to his country. It was published anonymously. What Southey, Coleridge, and Lamb said of this pamphlet is noteworthy. The latter, writing to Coleridge, 30th October 1809, said: "Its power over me was like that which Milton's pamphlets must have had on his contemporaries, who were tuned to them. prose! Do you hear if it is read at all? world of readers. I hate all that do read, for they read nothing but reviews and new books. I gather myself up into the old things." We may connect Lamb's opinion of Wordsworth's prose with Coleridge's remark in The Friend*: Quem quoties lego, non verba mihi videor audire, sed tonitrua,"

I am out of the

Canning said of the pamphlet that he regarded it as the most eloquent production since the time of Burke. But it certainly did not arouse any enthusiasm when it appeared. Its publication was unfortunately delayed, till general interest in the event it discussed had given place to interest in others that were more exciting in the sphere of European politics at that time. Wordsworth, however, discussed the bearing of the Convention, on the underlying and enduring principles of right and wrong in international quarrels. In the letter to Wrangham, he said he had begun to publish his opinion on the subject in a series of letters in The Courier newspaper.

I have lately received, through the kindness of Miss Stuart, the daughter of the editor of The Courier, copies of unpublished letters of Wordsworth to her father. If these letters, of which I give extracts, are somewhat pessimistic

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in tendency, they show the underlying purpose of the writer, even better than the long letter to General Pasley, which the Bishop of Lincoln published in his Uncle's Memoir in 1851. The following are extracts :

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"February 9, 1809.

Never did any public event cause in my mind so much sorrow as the Convention of Cintra, both on account of the Spaniards and Portuguese, and on our own. Every good and intelligent man of my friends or acquaintance has been in his turn agitated and afflicted by it.

What you say upon Wellesley as to the French being entitled to such terms, is exactly in its spirit what I had marked down upon the subject. Buonaparte may rather be said to inflict upon than to propose terms to his adversaries.

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Of Moore I know nothing further than that his forward movement is unaccountable, and that his retreat appears to have been very disorderly, and that Dalrymple has told us he approved of the Convention. If this be true, he was Moore in his person was,

either a fool or a rascal, or both.

If the Ministry do not

I believe, a thoroughly brave man. mean to give up the Spaniards, which I suspect with you, they ought to be execrated to the latest posterity. . . . I have many apologies to make in having been so dilatory in sending off copy. ... But I cannot bear much confinement, and have many interruptions, and take little pleasure in composing, and penmanship is to me unendurable.

"March 31, 1809.

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Yesterday I sent off the last sheets of the pamphlet. As I found the public mind so completely engrossed with the Duke of York, I thought it better to avail myself of that opportunity to add general matter to the pamphlet

concerning the hopes of the Spaniards, and the principles of the contest, so that, from the proportion of space which it occupied in the work, the Convention of Cintra might fairly appear what in truth it is in my mind-an action dwelt upon only for the sake of illustrating principles, with a view to promote liberty and good policy, in the manner in which an anatomist illustrates the laws of organic life from a human subject placed before him and his audience.

I confess I have no hopes of the thing making any impression. The style of thinking and feeling is so little in the spirit of the age. This country is, in fact, fallen as low in point of moral philosophy (and of course political) as it is possible for any country to fall. We should have far better books circulated among us, if we were as thoroughly enslaved as the Romans under their Emperors. Witness the state of literature in Germany till within these two or three years, when it has been overrun by the French. The voice of reason and nature was uttered and listened to under the Prussian despotism, and in the Courts of the Princelings. But books will do nothing of themselves, nor institutions without books. Two things are absolutely wanted in this country: a thorough reform in Parliament and a new course of education, which must be preceded by some genuine philosophical writings from some quarter or other, to teach the principles upon which that education should be grounded. We have in our language better Books than exist in any other, and in our land better Institutions; but the one nobody reads, and the others are fallen into disorder and decay.

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April 26, 1809.

Before I quit this subject, do let me entreat of you to omit no opportunity, in the Courier or otherwise, to exhort this country to be true to the Spaniards in their

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