Wordsworth’s Useless Fiat in ‘The Old Cumberland Beggar’



When either a very young man or increasingly old one, William Wordsworth was plenty capable of deploying the hortatory subjunctive we think of in common association with propositioning orators. ‘But let me ask you seriously,’ he boldly addressed the Bishop of Llandaff,2 ‘from the mode in which these distinctions are originally conferred, is it not almost necessary that, far from being the rewards of services rendered to the state, they should usually be the recompense of an industrious sacrifice of the general welfare to the particular aggrandizement of that power by which they are bestowed?’ Quoting Llandaff’s own prior judicial decisions back at him, Wordsworth could turn round with the sentence: ‘“Let it never be forgotten by ourselves and let us impress the observation upon the hearts of our children that we are in possession of both (liberty and equality), of as much of both, as can be consistent with the end for which civil society was introduced among mankind.”’3


Free Entrance Primary Imagination Creation Story Performative Utterance Divine Omnipotence 
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Copyright information

© Eric Reid Lindstrom 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of VermontUSA

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