1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Walter Savage Landor

William Wordsowrth to Walter Savage Landor, December 1824; Forster, Landor, a Biography (1869) 365-66.



I have begged this space from Southey, which I hope you will forgive, as I might not otherwise for some time have had courage to thank you for your admirable dialogues. They reached me last May, at a time when I was able to read them, which I did with very great pleasure. I was in London then, and have been a wanderer most of the time since. But this did not keep me silent. I was deterred, such is the general state of my eyes, by a consciousness that I could not write what I wished. I concur with you in so much, and differ with you in so much also, that though I could easily have disposed of my assent, easily and most pleasantly, I could not face the task of giving my reasons for my dissent! For instance, it would have required almost a pamphlet to set forth the grounds upon which I disagree with what you have put into the mouth of Franklin on Irish affairs, the object to my mind of constant anxiety. What would I not give for a few hour's talk with you upon republics, kings, and priests — and priestcraft! This last I abhor; but why spend one line in declaiming against it? Better endeavor to improve priests, whom we cannot, and ought not therefore endeavor to, do without. We have far more to dread from those who would endeavor to expel not only organized religion but all religion from society, than from those who are slavishly disposed to uphold it. At least I cannot help feeling so. Your dialogues are worthy of you, and a great acquisition to literature. The classical ones I like best, and most of all that between Tully and his brother. That which pleases me the least is the one between yourself and the Abbe Delille. The observations are invariably just, I own; but they are fitter for illustrative notes than the body of a dialogue, which ought always to have some little spice of dramatic effect. I long for the third volume; a feeling which after my silence I should not venture to express, were you not aware of the infirmity which has been the cause of it. I sent a message of thanks, from Cambridge, through Julius Hare, whom I saw at Cambridge in May last. Ever affectionately and gratefully yours, Wm. Wordsworth.