William Wordsworth

Alan G. Hill (ed.), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 8: A Supplement of New Letters (Revised Edition)

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  • MS. The Marquess of Northampton. Hitherto unpublished.

[?late May 1836]

My dear Lord,

Be assured that I was duly sensible of the honor done me by your Present of a Copy of the unpublished Poem of Irene with the miscellaneous Pieces annexed, and that thanks would have been immediately returned had I not persuaded myself they would be more acceptable if I were enabled to say that I had perused the Volume. Much do I regret that innumerable and harrassing engagements2 have deprived me hitherto of that pleasure, but the smaller pieces to which you kindly pointed my attention I have several times read, and I can sincerely say with very great delight. They are written with simplicity pathos and energy. I have also read part of Irene, but not yet the passages which you mentioned. I reserve them and the whole in its order for a time when I shall be more capable of enjoying things that are good. But I can no longer defer my acknowledgements nor deny myself the gratification of declaring that in my opinion (whatever may be its value), these pieces give proof of a poetical feeling, and talent, which by culture might have been carried to a high degree of excellence.

  • Believe me my Lord               
  • With thanks for your Letter           
  • faithfully         
  • your obliged     
  • Wm Wordsworth  

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Editor’s Note
1 This letter perhaps follows LY pt. iii, L. 1023. Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton, a liberal-minded Tory, had succeeded Spencer Perceval as M. P. for Northampton, and supported Wilberforce on emancipation and Sir James Macintosh on criminal law reform. In 1815 he married Margaret, eldest daughter of Maj. Gen. Douglas Maclean Clephane of Kirkness, Kinross, and a close friend of Scott (see J. G. Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., 7 vols., 1837–8, iii. 299–300, 347). He lived in Italy, 1820–30, interesting himself in artistic matters and liberal politics, and meeting H. C. R. there (see Sadler, ii. 257–8); but he returned to England on his wife's death in childbirth in Rome. In 1833 he printed her poem Irene for private circulation (see R. M. Cat., no. 548), and several of her other poems were later published in The Tribute (see below, letter of c. 1 Mar. 1837). W. W. does not appear to have made Lord Northampton's acquaintance until his London visit in summer, 1836 (see LY pt. iii, L. 1017): hence the suggested dating for this letter.
Editor’s Note
2 Particularly, perhaps, his discussions with Longman and Moxon over a new edition of his poems.
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