William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 5: The Later Years: Part II: 1829–1834 (Second Revised Edition)

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575. W. W. to D. W.

  • MS. WL.
  • LY i. 523.

  • Coleorton4—Monday Mor:
  • [8 Nov. 1830]

My dear Sister

Yesterday at eleven a.m. I reached this place, after a pleasant journey, in spite of a tremendous heavy rain the whole of Sat: afternoon, which wet everything upon me, and in my portmanteau, so that I had nothing to do at Derby, but to go instantly to bed. Here I found Sir G. and Lady B.,5 and their noble little Boy, pg 338quite well; and a Letter from dear Willy, forwarded from Cambridge. W. is quite well; has got his money and our Letters, and means to stay at Heidelberg; but the letter will be forwarded to you. He treats the disturbances lightly, so that I hope his poor Mother's fears will abate.—This is a bright day, and they1 will have a pleasant ride through Darley-dale by the Lord Nelson; a chaise from Derby, 16 miles, will bring them hither by five. They shall speak for themselves,—I will now say a word on my own journey—Did they tell you that I reached Preston before them, and slept at S. Horrocks's?2 Mrs Sinclair3 was luckily from Home, as was also the old Gentleman—S's wife is a very pleasing Woman, and plays upon the harp powerfully—her Father, Miller,4 is a native of Whitehaven, and but of vulgar manners. At Chorley I called on Mrs Master, formerly Alice Horrocks5—her husband a creditable Clergyman—and she has a nice little girl. Lancashire is but a dull county, and in my long ride I saw nothing that pleased me so much as a sweet little Gainsborough cottage girl with a tiny wheelbarrow which she was guiding along the Causeway, filled with dung collected on the road, with a little basket enclosed in a red handkerchief and slung upon one of the handles of the Barrow, in which she had carried dinner to her Father in the fields.—I gave her a penny for her industry, and she said, 'Thank you Sir', in the prettiest manner imaginable—I regret I did not ask her whether she had learned to read.—Perhaps Mary has told you that on Friday morning John Cookson6 rode my pony forward to Bullock Smithy (10 miles). I had set off from Manchester at 8 by coach, mounted at B. Smithy, and proceeded (look, dearest D. at the Map—Sarah I know does not matter7 such details—the map I mean prefixed to that Book about Derbyshire, which Chris: left) by Chapel le Frith, Peak Forest, Tideswell, Cressbrook, and Ash-ford in the Waters to Bakewell where I slept. This road led me through the central Hills of Derbyshire. At Chapel, while my Pony was baiting I strolled into the Church-yard as usual. There was one, and only one monument of the Dumfries character, a pg 339white and shewy Obelisk; I walked up towards it, commenting with too much self-complacency upon the vanity of Man, and received a sudden shock from these words engraven on the side that faced me—'The Lord will deliver thee into the hands of Death, and erelong O Reader thou shalt be with me'. At the Village of Peak Forest I saw fields of corn in the Sheaf, and ascending with the road to the highest and bleakest point that it crossed, I found a newbuilt Inn, called, as its Inscription of invitation tells the Traveller, Mount Pleasant, 'our first best country ever is at home'.—A starveling field or two of corn, intersecting stone walls without number, and few neighbouring eminences as unattractive, made all the prospect of Mount Pleasant. At Tideswell is a noble Church for its sequestered site; I regretted that my time did not allow me to enter it. Mounted a hill, and descended upon the Village of Cressbrook, where is a large Factory—but the Wey,1 which I here first came in sight of, is singularly beautiful both above and below the Village. It winds between green lawny hills and limestone steeps, through a narrow trough, and twists its way in some places through slips of meadow-ground as rich in verdure as Nature's bounty can make them. I was charmed with the mile and a half of this Stream along which my road took me, wished for you both a hundred times. I would gladly have continued to follow the river, which I was told was possible, but along a rugged track that might have lamed my Pony, and the day was too far advanced, so I yielded to necessity, and turned up the main road after halting often to look back upon this happy and holy seclusion, for such I could not but think it. I clomb the hill, descended, and joined the Wey again at Ashford; a pretty spot, but twilight was coming on.—The firing of guns startled me every now and then, for it was the fifth Nov: and I thought it prudent to dismount, and walked most of the 2 miles into Bakewell.—Rose early—rode down the valley with Haddon Hall in view, and at the point where Wey and Derwent unite, turned up towards Chatsworth—rode a mile, and leaving my pony to bait, walked up the valley and through Chatsworth Park to the House—splendid and large, but growing larger every year.2 The trees in this valley are still in many places clothed with rich variegated foliage—and so I found many all the way almost to Derby. My feelings at Chatsworth as contrasted with pg 340those which had moved me in the higher part of the Peak Country will be best given in the following, for which, as fresh from the brain, make such allowance as you can:

  •        Chatsworth! thy Park, and Mansion spreading wide
  •        And towering high, strange contrast do present
  •        To the plain treasures of that craggy Rent
  •        Which late I saw, where Wey's blue waters glide;
  •        A Dell whose native Occupants abide
  •        As in a dear and chosen banishment
  •        With every semblance of entire content,
  •        So kind is simple Nature, fairly tried!
  •        Yet he, whose heart in childhood gave her troth
  •        To pastoral dales thin-set with modest Farms,
  •        May learn, if judgement strengthen with his growth,
  •        That not for Fancy only Pomp hath charms;
  •        And, diligent to guard from lawless harms
  •        The extremes of favour'd life, may honor both.—1

Descending Darley dale I went into Darley Church yard and found by measure that its tall yew tree is in girth eleven times the length of my arm; but the tree in the expression and character of its trunk and arms is not to be compared to the best of those in Borrowdale. A mile below, upon an eminence to the right I recognized the two Trees that gave occasion to my Sonnet2 on the parting of the two Brothers—I could not hear of any such tradition from the people whom I questioned, but a little Boy told me that the trees, two sycamores, were called Wm Shore's trees from the name of the man who had planted them above 200 years ago; and that a woman had been buried near them. The same Informant told me that two very large Willows had stood close by where we were, called Scotch Trees; and that the spot which he pointed to was called Scotchman's Turn, from a Scotchman who had been murthered there.—Matlock looked charming with its hoary, dove-coloured rocks, its ivy, its eugh-trees, its elms retaining much of their faded foliage, and several of its other trees as green as in Summer. I never saw such a beautiful decoration of China roses and pyracanthus as upon one cottage at the entrance of this place. The berries were in the utmost profusion, and brilliant as gems; I thought with regret of the poor appearance of our tree when I pg 341left it. Dear Sara, what is the cause? Billy's quondam owners were delighted with news of him. I found he is of Welch breed, and cost them 7 pound. Incessant rain to Derby, but the rich woods and green lawns made some amends—a high wind also.—Started a little after six—baited at Swarkstone Bridge upon Trent, and halted again at Breedon for the sake of mounting the Rock which I had never done before. The view very confined on account of mist and vapour, though the morning was bright. In the Church many monuments of the Shirley family, Earls of Ferrers;1 and directly over the baptismal font, a skeleton, large as life or rather Death, painted on the wall, with a dart in one fleshless hand, and a spade in the other; below, this inscription—Vive memor lethi—Here also is a monument to a William Shakespeare killed by a fall from his Horse near Paris—I observed to the Clerk and a farmer who were with me that a very eminent person bore that name—the Clerk answered he only knew John Shakespear—'O but', said I, 'I mean a great dramatic Poet'—The farmer knew nothing of him, but the Parish Clerk recollected himself with a lively 'yes'.—15 houses of the town below have each a right to send three sheep up to graze upon the unenclosed part of the hill. The Farmer told me that 14 persons had been killed in his memory in blasting the limestone Rock—I have now done.

The changes at Coleorton will in time prove decisive improvements—at present parts are cold and bare. Sir George took me round—when I sate down in Lady B's2 grotto near the fountain I was suddenly overcome and could not speak for tears.

Now for business; tell John Carter to write most urgently to Slee,3 and demand an immediate answer; I rather think I undertook to do this. His negligence is shameful. I had some other point of business to mention, though of little consequence, but I have forgotten. Yesterday afternoon I attended with Sir G. and Lady B. the Chapel on the Moor, and heard from the Clergyman of Ashby a sermon in support of the Charity School. The Chapel was full almost as it could hold—I gave my two shillings—13 pounds were collected. Tell John4 this, and also what you will be sorry to hear that Mr Prickett5 has lately shown symptoms of mental and bodily pg 342irritability amounting to flightiness—The Merryweathers are not here—

[cetera desunt]

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
4 W. W., M. W., and Dora W. left Rydal Mount for Cambridge on Monday,1 Nov. James Dixon had ridden Dora W.'s pony 'Billy' to Lancaster, whence W. W. rode it to Cambridge, via Coleorton, as described in this letter and L. 582 below. The Wordsworths remained a week at Coleorton.
Editor’s Note
5 Sir George and Lady Beaumont.
Editor’s Note
1 M. W. and Dora W. who were following by coach.
Editor’s Note
2 Samuel Horrocks jnr., the Preston manufacturer (see pt. i, L.71). See also MW, p. 133.
Editor’s Note
3 Formerly Sarah Horrocks (see pt. i, L.199). The 'Old gentleman' is presumably her husband Dr. Sinclair, or rather St. Clare.
Editor’s Note
4 i.e. the father-in-law of Samuel Horrocks jnr.
Editor’s Note
5 For Alice Horrocks, see pt. i, L.149.
Editor’s Note
6 Younger son of the Cooksons of Kendal, now working in Liverpool (see SH, p. 377).
Editor’s Note
7 So MS. Sarah is S. H., now at Rydal with D. W.
Editor’s Note
1 Generally written Wye.
Editor’s Note
2 The sixth Duke of Devonshire (1790–1858) had added a new north wing to the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century mansion in 1820, to the designs of Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766–1840). Further additions followed later, including the orangery (1827).
Editor’s Note
1 See PW iii. 49 and app. crit. The first five lines of the sonnet were later considerably altered.
Editor’s Note
2 A Tradition of Oker Hill in Darley Dale, Derbyshire (PW iii. 49).
Editor’s Note
1 Of Staunton Harold, near Ashby de la Zouch.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. the late Lady Beaumont.
Editor’s Note
3 Isaac Slee of Tirril, near Penrith, who managed the late R. W.'s estate at Sockbridge.
Editor’s Note
4 John W., who had been curate at Whitwick, near Coleorton, the year before. For Mr. Prickett, the new curate, see L. 482 above.
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