William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 6: The Later Years: Part III: 1835–1839 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • Address: Sergeant Talfourd, Temple, London.
  • Postmark: 3 Jan. [?1835].
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
  • K (—). LY ii. 720 (—).

[In M. W.'s hand]

Rydal Mount Janry 1st, 1835

My dear Sir,

Your letter brought a great shock to us all. I had not heard from yourself when you were here that any thing was threatening Lamb's health, and Miss Hutchinson who saw him late in the Spring reported that he was looking wonderfully well, and appeared in excellent Spirits. He has followed poor Coleridge within six months.1 It seems to us upon reflection that his Sister will bear the loss of him better than he could have borne that of her; and we are bound to believe so, as it has pleased God to take him first. There seems to be, with respect to his dear Sister, from your account, enough to provide her with all comforts which her melancholy situation will admit of—Should it however not be so, there can be no doubt that Lamb's surviving friends will be too happy to contribute whatever might be desired. I need scarcely have mentioned this, because L. tho' exceedingly generous, and charitable above measure—was also prudent and thoughtful. Do let us hear from you again on the subject by and bye; for our minds and hearts are full of the sad Event, and one cannot but be very anxious to know the state of poor Miss Lamb's mind—after she has been more tried by the loss she has sustained.

Since you left us my Sister has had a severe attack of bilious fever, which confined her to her bed for three weeks—She is recovering, but slowly, being not yet able to walk.

The complaint under which my Daughter was suffering while you were here2 proved to be an affection of the Spine—and she has been nearly 10 weeks under a course of bleeding and pg 3blistering, and confined in a great measure to the Sofa. We hope that She may have strength of Constitution (having naturally an excellent one) to carry her thro' this painful and tedious complaint.

My little Vol.1 is printed off all but the last sheet—A Copy will be sent to you and the one designed for our dear departed friend may go to Moxon's to be delivered by Mrs M. to Miss Lamb whenever it shall be thought proper. Upon most carefully reviewing all that concerned the political Poem,2 which you and I agreed had better be withheld, I determined to publish it. I felt it due to myself to give this warning to my Countrymen, at this awful Crisis—utterly useless it may prove, but I should have suspected myself of cowardice or selfish caution, if I had suppressed what I had thought and felt, upon that momentous change. The Reform bill I have ever deemed from the night on which Ld J Russel brought forth his motion,3 an unwise measure, which could not be carried but by unworthy means. We are now about to gather the fruits of it in sorrow and vain repentance. For Heaven's sake, whatever influence you have, let it be put forth to baffle the mad projects of those Whigs and Radicals who have now made common cause—to baffle I have [            ]4 that it is feared is impossible, for at [               ] your own conscience's sake [do] what you can.

The matter to which you direct my attention at the close of your letter,5 presses closely on my mind—I should decide at once to do what you recommend, but there are many considerations that make me doubt and cause me a good deal of uneasiness—but you will hear again from me upon this subject, as I shall decide in a few days.

pg 4I cannot conclude without thanking you for your renewed invitation—be assured it will not be forgotten.

With every good wish which in old times might have been offered with more confidence than [at] present, to yourself and yours in which my family join, I remain my dear Sir

  • Your sincere friend            
  • [signed] Wm Wordsworth  

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Thomas Noon Talfourd (see pt. i, L. 4) had written on 29 Dec. 1834 to announce the death of Charles Lamb at Edmonton two days before after a fall in the street (WL MSS.). As Lamb's literary executor, he was now proceeding to settle his affairs. H. C. R. gives an affecting account of Mary Lamb at this time, HCR ii. 454–6.
Editor’s Note
2 Talfourd called the previous September (RMVB).
Editor’s Note
1 The Yarrow Revisited volume.
Editor’s Note
2 Probably The Warning (see pt. ii, L. 753).
Editor’s Note
3 Lord John Russell's motion 'that the present state of representation of the people in Parliament requires the most serious consideration of the House' was brought forward on 25 Apr. 1822.
Editor’s Note
4 MS. torn.
Editor’s Note
5 Talfourd had written, 'May I be permitted to express my hope that you will not omit the opportunity afforded by the present political state of things to effect the arrangement you desire as to your office? I the rather urge it, as I think the continuance of the Ministry very uncertain, and you may not choose to receive even so trifling a favour from the next Administration.'
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