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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1336. W. W. to JOHN LIGHTFOOT4

  • MS. Mrs. M. J. Roberts. Hitherto unpublished.

  • Rydal Mount
  • Monday morn. [Summer 1839]

Dear Sir,

There is a paper in circulation from the trustees of Keswick School5 soliciting subscriptions for the increase of the stipends pg 716or salaries of the masters, the application of the sum raised to be under the management of the trustees. Pray could you let me know what the amount of this stipend at present is and whence it proceeds and how it happens that funds whether coming from a fixed salary or quarter pence or both which appears by the circulated papers to have been formerly adequate to the support of an able master or masters, now no longer serves. These particulars and any others which you might think useful for the guardians or any one disposed to listen to such an application I should be glad to learn, information having been asked from me upon the subject. I hope you will be so kind to excuse my addressing myself to you upon this occasion as I know no one to whom I could apply with a like prospect of success.

You may have heard lately from dear John.1 When I was in London I called upon Sir James Macgregor2 on John's account but unluckily he was out of town and not to return for a month—so I may send to him. With kind remembrances to Mrs Lightfoot,

W Wordsworth   

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Editor’s Note
4 The Keswick attorney who had married R. W.'s widow.
Editor’s Note
5 The ancient Grammar School, which at this time adjoined Crosthwaite Church, had about 80 pupils and was administered by a board of 18 trustees. The landed endowments produced about £100 a. year, £80 of which was paid to the headmaster.
Editor’s Note
1 R. W.'s son had now qualified as a doctor and was practising at Fort Pitt, Chatham, pending an appointment abroad with the Army Medical Service.
Editor’s Note
2 Sir James McGrigor, Bart., F.R.S. (1771–1858) served as an army surgeon and became an inspector of hospitals and chief of Wellington's medical staff in the Peninsula. He was Director-General of the army medical department, 1815–51, and W. W. had written to him on 11 Jan. in support of his nephew's application. W. W.'s letter is untraced, but McGrigor replied on 30 Jan. (MS. Mrs.M.J. Roberts), promising to do what he could 'out of my respect for the character of Mr. Wordsworth', though there were many others who had more pressing claims. While in London, W. W. had also planned to approach another distinguished medical man, Sir John McNeill (1795–1853) (see Wordsworth's Pocket Notebook, p. 17). In the event, an appointment in the Ionian Islands was secured for 'Keswick John' shortly after this, with the help of Dr. John Davy and Sir William Gomm (see Ls. 1339 and 1347 below).
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