Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 63.djvu/47

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Wordsworth
Wordsworth
23

Dorothy Wordsworth told Robinson that he would publish no more poems, as they never sold (Knight, iii. 70). The collective edition of 1820 of five hundred copies was not sold out for four years. In 1825−6 he corresponded with S. Rogers and Alaric Watts, asking them to help him to get better terms from a new publisher. The profits of his books had been spent in advertising. Rogers said that if he were allowed to select, he would make a popular collection of the poems. To this Wordsworth declined to submit, and, after some negotiation, had to fall back upon his old publishers, the Longmans, who in 1827 brought out a new edition Wordsworth to have two-thirds of the expenses and profits, instead of half profits as before. Of a new edition in 1831 only four hundred out of two thousand copies were sold by June 1832 (see Rogers and his Contemporaries, i. 403−15; Life of Alaric Watts, i. 234−7; Transactions of Wordsworth Society, vol. vi.) On 20 Feb. 1835 Wordsworth told Moore that he had not made above 1,000l. by all his publications up to that time. Rogers told Robinson (Diaries, &c., iii. 73) about this time that Wordsworth would now be as much overpraised as he had been depreciated. In 1836 Edward Moxon [q. v.], who had published ‘Selections’ in 1831, gave him 1,000 l. for a new edition, a bargain which in 1842 Wordsworth thought had been a bad one for the publisher (Knight, iii. 418). The circulation, however, was increasing. In 1837 he began to hear that his poems were making an impression at home and abroad. In that year he was told that an edition of twenty thousand copies had been published in America (ib. iii. 267). In 1839, when Talfourd was proposing a new law of copyright, Wordsworth, in a petition to the House of Commons, stated that within the last four years he had received more for his writings than during his whole previous career. He had a long correspondence with Talfourd, Gladstone, and other supporters of the measure at this period (printed in Knight, iii. 318−58). When on 26 May 1836 he attended the first performance of Talfourd's ‘Ion,’' he was received with loud cheers, according to the rather doubtful statement of John Dix, who was present (Knight, iii. 265). In 1838 he received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from the university of Durham, and in 1839 the same degree at Oxford. He there received an enthusiastic welcome. Keble, who presented him, dedicated to him in 1844 his ‘Prælectiones Academicæ,’ and on both occasions used terms of reverent affection, by which Wordsworth was deeply gratified. He had waited forty years for general recognition of his genius.

In 1842 Wordsworth resigned his place in the stamp office; it was transferred to his son William, who had done much of the duty since 1831, when upon an enlargement of the district he had become his father's deputy at Carlisle. This involved a loss of 400l. a year, ‘more than half his income’ (Knight, iii. 426). This fact, as he desired, was brought under the notice of Sir R. Peel, who in October gave him a pension of 300l. a year from the civil list. The grant was due to the influence of Gladstone.

Wordsworth's eldest son, John, had taken orders, and at the end of 1828 was preferred to the rectory of Moresby, Cumberland, by Lord Lonsdale. He afterwards became vicar of Brigham, near Cockermouth. Wordsworth's daughter Dorothy (called ‘Dora’ to distinguish her from her aunt) was his favourite child, and is commemorated with Edith Southey and Sara Coleridge in the ‘Triad.’' On 11 May 1841 she married Edward Quillinan [q. v.] Wordsworth withheld his consent for some time, partly, it seems, because Quillinan was a Roman catholic, but chiefly from unwillingness to part from the daughter whom he loved with a ‘passionately jealous’ affection (Tatloe, Autobiography, i. 334−9). His consent was partly due to the pressure of Isabella Fenwick, who had come to live at Grasmere out of admiration for his poetry, and stayed for some time in the family. Both the poet and his wife found in her an ardent and judicious friend, and to her Wordsworth dictated the invaluable notes upon the composition of his poems.

Upon the death of Southey (21 March 1843) the poet-laureateship was offered to Wordsworth, who at first declined on the ground of his inability to discharge the duties. Sir Robert Peel having assured him that no official verses would be required from him, he accepted the offer. In May 1845 he went to London upon being invited to a state ball. He afterwards attended a levee in court dress, and had to be forced into Rogers's clothes and to wear Davy's sword (see Haydon, iii. 303−6, and the Browning Letters, i. 86−7). Tennyson was squeezed into the same coat when he had to attend a levee as Wordsworth's successor (Life of Tennyson, i. 338). In January 1846 he sent a copy of his poems to the queen, with verses inscribed upon the flyleaf (printed in Knight, iii. 470). In 1847 an ode, nominally by him, but probably written by Quillinan (Eversley Wordsworth, viii. 320), was set to music and performed at the installation