Dorothy Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Alan G. Hill (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 4: The Later Years: Part I: 1821–1828 (Second Revised Edition)

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47. D. W. to H. C. R.

  • Address: To H. C. Robinson Esqre, 3 King's Bench Walk, Temple.
  • MS. Dr. Williams's Library.
  • K (—). Morley, i. 105.

  • Friday Night
  • 24th November [1821]

My dear Friend,

The three or four days after you left us were most provokingly sunny and delightful—I cannot say that we have had much vexation of the like kind since that time;—for the rain has day by day fallen in torrents with a chance twenty-four hours of fine weather between; and we consoled ourselves as well as we could for our mortification in having lost you before the fine weather came, in thinking that it would make your journey pleasant on the outside of the coach; and also in remembering how chearful and merry we were in spite of wind and rain during the short time you were with us. I write now, because I can send a letter post free,—and because I have to ask your advice for a young Man, the son of our Friend Mrs Cookson of Kendal, who is in the last year of his Clerkship with a Solicitor at Kendal, and is looking forward to his removal to London.1 Will you be so good as to point out what seems to you most likely to be serviceable in the regulation of his views? And perhaps you may know some respectable Solicitor who may be inclined to take him into his office. Mr Strickland Cookson is a remarkably steady and sensible young Man, very attentive to business, and has I doubt not given great satisfaction to his present Master,—and you already know from us that he is come of good Parents. He has no particular wish to settle in the country, after his Clerkship, rather the contrary, though we think that he would have a better chance than most young men in his native Town. If there should be an opening for him in London he would prefer settling there.

I mention these circumstances that you may be the better able to judge what kind of practice for the time he has yet to serve may pg 92be most likely to profit him; and perhaps in thinking the matter over you may hit upon some judicious Friend or acquaintance in the Law who may be glad to take such a young Man into his service.—

I should have continued to wait yet a week or two longer in hopes of a letter from you, but for the present opportunity—You know you had several matters to write about.—Do not forget the pulpit at Brussels, and if you have any notes respecting Milan Cathedral, I should be grateful if you would send them. We have been going on in much the same way as when you were with us, only my poor Sisters motions are sadly cramped by the lameness in her Toe. So far from being in a condition to climb St Gothard at present, She is obliged to be indebted to the Ass or Mr Quillinan's gig if she would go much more than a mile from home. We hope, however, that as the enlargement of the joint seems to have yielded in some degree to twice blistering and bleeding, she may, by perseverance in that course, advised by a medical Man, again have the free use of both her feet. She has little or no pain except from using the foot too much. My Brother's eyes are no worse—I think rather better. He has written some beautiful poems1 since you left us, which as Miss Hutchinson has transcribed them for Mr Monk-house you will have an opportunity of seeing—I am sure they will delight both you and him. The Sonnets2 have been at rest.

Poor Mrs Quillinan has been removed to Lancaster;3 and you will be sorry to hear that her mind is not more settled than when Mrs W. was attending upon her, though she is less turbulent. Her eldest little Girl is with Mrs Gee; and her Husband at present gone to visit her. My Brother accompanied Mr Q. on a Tour4 to the Caves, Studley Park, Knaresborough and York, and this was of pg 93great service to the forlorn husband, who is sadly unsettled at home. My Brother very much enjoyed his Tour; and this reminds me that both we at home, and they, had a whole week of fine weather. Shame on my treacherous and ungrateful memory!—I have not had a single line from my dear and good Friend Mrs Clarkson since Playford Hall had the honour of becoming a royal Residence;1 and we have been anxious to hear how the parties were satisfied with each other on nearer acquaintance.—Mrs C. talked of going to London before Christmas; and perhaps she is there now, for as the papers tell us the Queen and Princesses have left Playford. Pray if you have any tidings of her tell us.—

It gave us great concern to hear of the death of John Lamb;2 Though his Brother and Sister did not see very much of him the loss will be deeply felt; pray tell us particularly how they are; and give our kind love to them. I fear Charles's pen will be stopped for a time. What delightful papers he has lately written for that otherwise abominable magazine!3 The Old King's Benchers is exquisite—indeed the only one I do not quite like is the Grace before Meat.

I hope you see the Monkhouses often, though he is become a home-stayer. I cannot express how it would grieve me if any thing should prevent their intended journey next summer. It seemed quite unnatural not to have him amongst us during some part of the last.

I wish you may have seen Willy when you write; but I am well aware of the trouble of making calls for a man of business in London.—You must excuse this worthless scrawl. It is near eleven o'clock—I have yet another letter to write, and the packet is to go pg 94early in the morning.—My Brother and Sister and Miss Hutchinson send their best wishes and remembrances.

  • Believe me,                            
  • dear Friend and Fellow traveller,      
  • Yours faithfully                    
  • Dorothy Wordsworth.    

Have you been able to forward my letters to Rome and Paris1 through your Friend? If not, I hope you have already paid the postage—but should you still have them pray do so even yet; for as they contain no News they will answer their purpose.—Better late than never.—

I have been reading to my Brother what I had written concerning Strickland Cookson, and he desires me to add that Mr Wilson2 of Kendal whom he serves at present, has respectable connexions in London, among whom is Mr Addison of Staple Inn, Successor to, and formerly Partner with our late Brother; but it is thought here that it would be more advantageous to the young Man to be placed in an office where he might meet with more extensive practice.

Among the poems is one to the Memory of poor Goddard,3 which probably would never have been written but for your suggestion.—How often do I think of that night when you first introduced that interesting youth to us!—At this moment I see in my mind's eye the lighted salon—you in your great Coat, and the two4 slender tall figures following you!

My Brother says that you will probably like to have yourself a copy of the Stanzas above-mentioned; and also you promised to seek an opportunity, (if ever it should be composed,) to send this tribute to poor Goddard's memory, to his Mother in America. [W. W. adds: By no means read the poem to any Verse-writer—or Magazine Scribbler] Have you seen the Edinburgh Magazine5 with pg 95the articles signed S. T. Coleridge? My Brother has not; for he will not suffer it to come into his house, as you know—but we females have—we found the Matter too dull to be read by us; mostly unintelligible, and think it cannot be Coleridges.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Strickland Cookson, later W. W.'s solicitor, was articled the following year to Richard Addison (see MY i. 366), formerly partner to R. W., as D. W. anticipates later on in this letter.
Editor’s Note
1 Memorials of a Tour on the Continent, 1820 (PW iii. 164 ff.), published in 1822. See L. 55 below.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. the Ecclesiastical Sketches.
Editor’s Note
3 Mrs. Quillinan was undergoing mental treatment at Lancaster after the birth of Rotha the previous spring, and E. Q., in a distraught state, had left Rydal for Lancashire. His unpublished Diaries (WL MSS.) record his restlessness: [Liverpool, 23 Nov.] 'What am I doing here? Without object, without motive except the vain hope of beguiling this dreadful anxiety by movements and change of place. I have left my romantic cottage in the mountains, and my children, and kind and valuable friends, for the smoke and dirt and noisy cheerless bustle of this over grown Mart, where I am alone in the midst of thousands.' But by 20 Dec. he was back in Rydal: his wife made a good recovery in the new year (see SH, p. 229), and by the following March the family was reunited and had moved into the Ivy Cottage.
Editor’s Note
4 E. Q.'s incomplete MS. Diary records that they left Rydal on 3 Nov., and visited Kirkby Lonsdale, Sedbergh (where they saw John W. and Henry Wilkinson), Leyburn, Middleham Castle, Jervaulx Abbey, Masham, Ripon, Studley, and Fountains Abbey—where the entries break off on 6 Nov.
Editor’s Note
1 See previous letter.
Editor’s Note
2 'Nov. 18th … I stepped into the Lambs' cottage at Dalston. Mary pale and thin, just recovered from one of her attacks. They have lost their brother John and feel their loss. They seemed softened by affliction and to wish for society.' (HCR i. 276.) John Lamb (1763–1821), who died on 26 Oct., had drifted apart from his younger brother and sister long before this, after the tragic death of their mother. He entered the South-Sea House as a clerk in the early 1780s, prospered, and c. 1805 became Accountant, taking up residence in Threadneedle St. In 1815 he acquired the portrait of Milton (see MY ii. 239 and Lamb, ii. 154, 159) which he bequeathed to Charles Lamb, and which is now in the New York Public Library. While for Talfourd he was 'John Lamb the jovial and burly', H. C. R. found him 'grossly rude and vulgar'; but a fuller portrait of him as 'James Elia' had recently appeared in Lamb's essay 'My Relations' (London Magazine, iii (June 1821), 611–14), and he was to be recalled among childhood memories m 'Dream Children' (v (Jan. 1822), 21–3).
Editor’s Note
3 The Essays of Elia were continuing to appear in the London Magazine throughout 1821 and 1822. The essays mentioned here were published in iv (Sept. and Nov. 1821), 279–84, 469–72.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. to Lady Beaumont and the Baudouins.
Editor’s Note
2 There were several solicitors of this name in Kendal: W. W. is probably referring to Isaac Wilson, whose talents he came to admire during the 1818 election, and who eventually rose to be Mayor of Kendal in 1832; or to the younger Mr. Wilson of Messrs. James Wilson and Son. For both, see MY ii. 418.
Editor’s Note
3 Elegiac Stanzas (PW iii. 193), in memory of Frederick Warren Goddard (or Frederick William, as H. C. R. miscalled him). See MY ii. 642 and HCR i. 243, 247, 250.
Editor’s Note
4 i.e. Goddard and his young friend Trotter. Alexander Trotter (1804–65) came of an old Midlothian family: entered St. John's College, Cambridge, 1822; and met H. C. R. again later in life as a fellow member of the Athenaeum. See HCR ii. 615.
Editor’s Note
5 i.e. Blackwood's, in which there appeared in Oct. 1821 (x. 243–62) five letters entitled A Selection from Mr Coleridge's Literary Correspondence with Friends, and Men of Letters. They are somewhat desultory, as Morley notes, but there is no doubt about the authorship. See Griggs, v. 166.
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