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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pg 7341350. W. W. to M. W. and ISABELLA FENWICK

  • Address: Miss Fenwick, G. Taylor's Esqe, Whitton, Bishop Auckland, Durham.
  • Postmark: 4 Nov. 1839. Stamp: Ambleside.
  • MS. WL. Hitherto unpublished.

[In Dora W.'s hand]

  • Rydal Mount
  • Sunday Evng [3 Nov. 1839]

Father speaks

My dearest Friends,

I do not mean to employ much time in noticing the contents Mary of yr letter. I must however say that we were glad to hear so good an account of our relations1 and that yr extract from Miss Fenwick's letter rejoices us much. The impression made by Mrs Henry Taylor2 is all that cd be wished and we trust that there is a firm ground for hope to build upon in this marriage and can rationally be looked for. But dear Miss Fenwick I was a little mortified to learn from yr not writing to us on account of the expence of postage how much I must have spoken to you of trivial matters; if you were but aware how continually I had expected to hear from you every day, you wd be sorry that you had not made an exception and in [my]3 own case. My intention for this week, is to go to Whitehaven by mail on Tuesday to remain there if Ld L.4 stays so long till Friday, to pass Sat. and Sunday at Brigham and to meet you at Keswick on Monday or Tuesday as may suit yr convenience. Only you must take care to let me know for a certainty which of these days by a letter addressed to me at Brigham. If John has the command of a carriage and the weather pretty good and the children well I trust I shall prevail upon the mother to let two of them accompany her husband and me to Keswick. Of this place we think with much more pleasure than we could do a few days since.5 Bertha who returned yesterday brings a much more pg 735favorable report of her Father's state both of body and mind. Her visit did much more good than cd have been expected. She soothed and quieted the parties and reconciled Kate, Betty and Cuthbert to the thought of no other change than that Betty sd be housekeeper under Mrs Southey. It is settled also that Kate is to have an allowance wh will place her at liberty to move about among her friends wh happily for herself she is strongly inclined to, and accordingly she will be at Rydal on Saturday next on a visit to her sister in the first instance and is prepared after to visit you Miss Fenwick and us. What the poor creature has endured in mind is terrible to think of—the particulars you will hear from Dora when you return. I do not like to enter upon them and will dismiss the distressing subject by saying that Bertha has been taught by this visit to think much more highly of Mrs Southey and her maid than she did before. Betty also behaved perfectly well and it seems that the main root of the pain and discomfort wh has spread thro' the whole house (Mr Southey not excluded) was in the wrong view wh Kate had taken of persons and things thro' her understanding being affected by serious irritability amounting at times to derangement of mind. Mrs Southey it appears is very hot tempered, this her maid acknowledges. She speaks of her as a most excellent person, kind, affte, and with qualities that have made her beloved and respected wherever she becomes intimately known. Nevertheless it is but justice to poor Kate to say that Mrs S has uttered things during their derangements wh any one wd have found hard to bear and something not to be excused by mere defects of temper. As to poor dear Mr Southey he has returned to his employments, even to composition, but it still subject to bewilderment, for example he asked B when she had seen Mr Rickman.1

pg 736Now for ourselves. Miss Ricketts and Anna1 took Miss Taylor's2 place on Monday and remained with us till Friday noon. The dry weather, for we have scarcely had a drop of rain for 11 days, allowed us to move about a good deal and we past our time pleasantly. Yesterday Miss Gillies and I had a very long walk on the other side of Rydal Water round by Loughrigg tarn and went over the Fell where we encountered a tremendous wind from the east wh as the twilight was come and I was obliged to use both glasses and gauze shade to protect my eyes made the journey, for such it seemed, to be rather hazardous. Nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves much and the objects and the novelty of the situation greatly interested my companion; we were in motion three hours and 20 minutes. Miss G a little tired today but I scarcely felt the walk notwithstanding the violence of the wind. Today the wind is almost gone but for at least 4 days during the last week it blew what the sailors call great guns and throughout the woods has turned autumn into winter. But the fields are still beautifully green; our Dahlias in front of the window are still blooming—so are those, and other flowers at Elleray, but at Mr Roughsedge's3 they have been long destroyed by the frost which is another proof of what I have long observed, that blossoms, flowers, and leaves, in high situations, often escape the mischief to wh they are subject in low ones where the moister air and vapours being acted upon by frost are apt to destroy them. The dry weather we have had by making so much walking exercise agreeable has made me feel finally how much our muscular strength depends upon exercise, three hours walking tire me now less than one did a few weeks back. But I ought to have talked to you long ago about the miniature. Every one says that the bust4 only excepted it is much the best thing that has been done of me and if you dearest Mary do not like it we shall be mortified indeed; Miss Fenwick I am pretty confident will be pleased, we hope and trust you will both be so if it were only for Miss Gillies' sake. She has worked so carefully and been so anxious and is really for this charming art a person of genius. She is to paint Mrs Harrison,5 her son pg 737Richard in the same piece, and on Tuesday she goes to Elleray to make a likeness of Lady Farquhar.

William writes in a cheerful strain, but does not mention his own health. Hannah Cookson1 writes that he is much better and generally looks so and looks much younger, a report wh Mr Wilkinson2 confirmed to Mr and Mrs Harrison who met him at Keswick yesterday. This is the best news, and I have kept it to the last but we have also heard today from Brinsop. Elizabeth is much better but her father suffers severely from the nipping cold. Mr Carr and the Miss Dowlings are to be there on Thursday. I hope Thomas3 will benefit from this visit. Remember me most kindly to Mr and Mrs Taylor. God grant us a happy meeting at Keswick and believe me my beloved friends

  • faithfully yours        
  • W W.    

I am going up stairs to Sister who is much as usual. She has gone today to her own room, a change wh she greatly enjoys.

I have heard nothing more from Mr Jackson about the house he [? wants] for Mr Huddleston.4

John Wordsworth5 sails from Gibraltar on the 7th inst. He has just sold £1500 worth of his little estate to Mr Cowper6 and feels himself quite at ease.

Anne is come home looking thin but not at all lame. She had made us good bread out of flour wh we were on the point of sending away as bad. Jane saw Mr Fell who comforted her and is all much [?]7 about her leg and she is in good spirits again. I am very anxious about the house and as soon as I return will see what can prudently be done to push the matter forward. Mrs Luff is hot again upon Mr Partridge's8 house. She has thrown off her severe cold in a surprising manner.

pg 738By the by I have had a translation sent me by Mr Richardson1 of one of my Sonnets, the one composed on Westminster bridge, into the Bengalese tongue; it is by a native Indian gentleman of Consideration who is said to be thoroughly master of the English language. Again farewell

W W.2   

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 M. W. had been visiting her relatives at Stockton-on-Tees.
Editor’s Note
2 Formerly Theodosia Spring Rice.
Editor’s Note
3 Word dropped out.
Editor’s Note
4 Lord Lonsdale.
Editor’s Note
5 The Southey family quarrel had now broken out. Soon after her arrival at Greta Hall, Southey's second wife Caroline found herself involved in acrimonious disputes with her stepdaughters Kate and Bertha, and with her stepson Cuthbert who excluded virtually all reference to Southey's life after his second marriage from the Life and Correspondence. Other relatives and friends of the family were obliged to take sides. Caroline found support from the Warters, but the Wordsworths sided with Southey's other children in opposing her. On 26 Feb. 1841 Kate Southey drew up at W. W.'s suggestion 'an account concerning the sad occurrences that had taken place in my Father's house since his marriage', which is now preserved in the Victoria University Library, Toronto.
Editor’s Note
1 Southey's friend John Rickman, the census official.
Editor’s Note
1 For the Ricketts sisters see L. 1276 above.
Editor’s Note
2 A friend of Mrs. Ricketts: apparently a niece of Mrs. Lutwidge of Ambleside (see L. 1369 in next volume).
Editor’s Note
3 A neighbour and friend of the Wordsworths.
Editor’s Note
4 Chantrey's bust of W. W.
Editor’s Note
5 Mrs. Benson Harrison.
Editor’s Note
1 Sister of Elizabeth Cookson.
Editor’s Note
2 Perhaps the Revd. George Wilkinson (see pt. i, L. 393).
Editor’s Note
3 Thomas Hutchinson was presumably to benefit from Mr. Carr's professional ministrations.
Editor’s Note
4 The MS. is obscure at this point. The reference is possibly to Thomas Jackson of Waterhead, Lady le Fleming's agent, and Andrew Fleming Hudleston, the heir to the Fleming estates (see L. 1282 above).
Editor’s Note
5 R. W.'s son.
Editor’s Note
6 Perhaps a farmer in Ambleside, as I. F. is presumed to have heard of him.
Editor’s Note
7 MS. obscure.
Editor’s Note
8 Probably Mr. Partridge of Ambleside.
Editor’s Note
1 Later Sir John Richardson.
Editor’s Note
2 Dora W. adds a brief note: '… Father is wonderfully well. He really astonishes me with what he goes thro' in the way of walking and talking …'
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