William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt, Alan G. Hill, and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 3: The Middle Years: Part II: 1812–1820 (Second Revised Edition)

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pg 577571. W. W. to BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON

  • Address: B. R. Haydon, Lisson Grove north, London.
  • MS. untraced.
  • Haydon (—) MY ii. 680, p. 860.

Rydale Mount near Ambleside. 16th January, 1820

My dear Friend,

Mr Monkhouse has probably informed you how far I have suffered under the same malady as yourself.—I am better so far as to be able to use my eyes by day; but I neither write nor read by Candle light.—I do most sincerely rejoice in your recovery—and congratulate you with all my heart on the completion of your Picture;1 of which I hear from our common Friends the Beaumonts the most excellent accounts. Indeed they speak of it in the highest terms.—Your most valuable Drawing2 arrived, when I was unable to enjoy it as it deserved. I did not like to employ an Amanuensis to thank you for it; as I hoped for a speedy recovery:—a hope I shall not indulge in again as I am convinced that the organ of sight is with me in a precarious state; that is very irritable and subject to inflammation. Under these circumstances as I was sure of your painful sympathy I ran the risk of incurring your displeasure, as the less evil of the two—Your drawing is much admired as a work of art; some think it a stodgy3 likeness; but in general it is not deemed so—for my own part I am proud to possess it as a mark of your regard, and for its own merits.

I purpose being in London in the Spring; when I trust I shall find you well and prosperous. Do you ever hear of John Scott—pray how is he? and where; if you are in communication with him let him know that I am much interested in his welfare.—Mr Monkhouse, I understand, you see occasionally, and through him we hear of you; always with lively interest. Now that you have recovered your eyes, paint, and leave writing to the dunces and malignants with which pg 578London swarms—You have taken too much trouble about them.—How is Keates, he is a youth of promise too great for the sorry company he keeps.1 You perhaps have heard from Mr Monkhouse that my younger son is at the Central School, Baldwyns Gardens. I should like to know what impression your picture makes upon him, and shall beg of Mr Monkhouse to take him to see it. Do you skate, we have charming diversion in that way about our lakes. I wish you were here to partake of it. The splendor of the snow-clad mountains, by moonlight in particular is most charming; and the softness of the shadows surpasses anything you can conceive; this when the moon is at a particular point of elevation. I never saw any thing so exquisite; though I believe Titian has; and so, therefore, perhaps may you.—Let me hear from you at your leisure, and particularly how far you are pleased with your own performance. If I could see your Picture, I think it would inspire me with a Sonnet; and indeed without seeing it I do not lack matter for so slight a tribute to your merit.—Mrs Wordsworth and Miss Hutchinson join me in most hearty congratulation, and sincerest regards; and believe me, my dear Haydon,

  • Your faithful friend      
  • and sincere admirer   
  • Wm. Wordsworth  

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, in which W. W. appears as a spectator 'bowing in reverence and awe', while Keats, Voltaire, and Newton stand near by Haydon had been at work on the picture for several years. For his own interpretation of it, see Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon, ed. W. B. Pope, 5 vols., 1960–3, ii, pp. 258 ff.; and for a full history, Blanshard, op. cit., pp. 147–8.
Editor’s Note
2 The chalk drawing of W. W. made for M. W. during their visit to London in Jan. 1818 (see Haydon's Diary, ii, p. 182; and SH 36, p. 115), and left with Thomas Monkhouse until it could be safely sent to Rydal Mount. For full details, see Blanshard, op. cit., pp. 149–50. Haydon had written to W. W. on 12 Sept. 1818: 'With respect to the Drawing I did of your head, I am happy to tell you, it met with universal public approbation—and was considered by a great many as the best sketch I had ever made of any one …' (WL MSS.)
Editor’s Note
3 Written stogy.
Editor’s Note
1 Haydon replied on 28 Apr.: 'Keats is very poorly, and I think in danger …' (WL MSS.).
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