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May 12 1812: Wordsworth


On May 13, 1812, Wordsworth engages in a heated discussion with William Stanley Roscoe. Wordsworth was shocked by the murder of Spencer Perceval and the reaction of some who tried to justify it. Wordsworth blamed the radical oppositionists in Parliament, such as Sir Francis Burdett, for stirring up passions. Henry Crabb Robinson writes in his diary:
May 13. — Wordsworth accompanied me to Charles Aikin's. Mrs. Barbauld, the Aikins, Miss Jane Porter, Montgomery the poet, Roscoe,T son of the Liverpool Roscoe, &c. The most agreeable circumstance of the evening was the homage involuntarily paid to the poet. Everybody was anxious to get near him. One lady was ludicrously fidgetty till she was within hearing. A political dispute rather disturbed us for a time. Political Wordsworth, speaking of the late assassination, and of Sir Francis Burdett's speech ten days ago, said that probably the murderer heard that speech, and that this, operating on his mind in its diseased and inflamed state, might be the determining motive to his act. This was taken up as a reflection on Sir Francis Burdett, and resented warmly by young Roscoe, who maintained that the speech was a constitutional one, and asked what the starving were to do? "Not murder people," said Wordsworth, " unless they mean to eat their hearts."


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