1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir James Bland Burges

William Wordsworth to James Bland Burges, 14 January 1801; Burges, Letters and Correspondence, ed. Hutton (1895) 308.



Sir,

I entreat the honour of your acceptance of the accompanying volumes, as an acknowledgment of the pleasure which I have received from your poem. You will permit me to mention, as an excuse of the liberty which I thus take, that I had observed in your poetry, independent of its other merits, a pure and unmixed vein of native English, which induced me to hope that a series of poems written in the spirit of dislike to that diction which proceeds from the individual, not the community, would possess some claim to your attention. The habit of considering the language of our country as a servant and not as a master, has infected with few exceptions almost all our writers, both in prose and verse, since the death of Dryden, and has, I think, co-operated with other causes in some measure to injure the simplicity of our national character and to weaken our reverence for our ancient institutions and religious offices. Those prepossessions, therefore, which the knowledge of a wise purpose gains in favour of the execution, I rely on from your kindness, and have the honour,

Sir, to remain,

Your obedient, humble servant,

William Wordsworth.