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This item is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

Letters from Mark Beech Wordsworth and Satan


Constance Parrish and Duncan Wu (PNR 153) say that Wordsworth's support of Viscount Lonsdale and his sons, Viscount Lowther and Colonel Henry Lowther, in the General Election of 1818, was 'a disgraceful episode, not just in the history of British politics, but in the career of the future Poet Laureate'. It certainly doesn't do Wordsworth much credit: Lonsdale, known throughout the Lake District as the 'bad earl', was portrayed in a cartoon by James Gillray as 'Satan in All His Glory'. But there is a rather important extenuating circumstance. For John Wordsworth, the poet's father, had been Lonsdale's (or, as he then was, Sir James Lowther's) law and land agent; the house in which his son William was born was actually owned by his employer. Wordsworth's allegiance to the Lowthers, though it may seem deeply misguided, was in fact rooted in a sense of longstanding family obligation.



This item is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

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