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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W. W. to M. W.5

  • Address: Mrs Wordsworth, Mr Hutchinson's, Radnor.
  • Franked: London May sixteenth 1812 W. Sturges Bourne.6
  • Postmark: 16 May 1812.
  • MS. WL.
  • LL, p. 156.

[16 May 1812]


The accompanying which I received yesterday, has relieved me from much anxiety. I have a frank for Monday, for you and hope pg 78to write at some length on that day, therefore I have less regret in now saying so little.—I have just finished a pretty long Letter to Grasmere. Lord Lonsdale1 will be in Town next week, and I shall make a point of seeing him; and then I shall deem my business in London done and shall be most impatient to get away to thy arms, where alone I can be happy; unless when Duty calls me elsewhere. And I am sure that no obligation of duty will then exist to divide us. For as to amusement etc unless I felt that it contributed to2 my health etc, you shall know how the sentence went on but first let me tell you what a blunder I have made and this moment discovered, viz, that the rest intended for you has been written, by mistake on the cover, directed, Miss W— for Grasmere. A most unlucky oversight! for unfortunately there are some tender and overflowing expressions of Love which were meant for no eyes but thine, and which if I cannot erase, I must not send the Cover; for example I feel that every thing I had written3 in the way of amusements appears worthless and insipid when I think of one sweet smile of thy face, that I absolutely pant to behold it again. Of course this must not go, and how to get rid of it I know not.—I have crossed and recrossed the Frank and part of it I fear will still be legible; at all events the very attempt to hide, will I fear give offense.—I have now blotted the sheet so that it is impossible to make out the obnoxious expressions—so let it pass; for I know not how (now that [it] is so late), to procure another frank, and I promised to write, against Monday.—

This morning Stuart called on me; he has been ill, is much reduced, and looks, I think, ten years older than when I saw him last. The complaint originated in a disorder of the Stomach which he ascribes to having often over eat himself, particularly when exhausted. He says that for some years he has had intima-pg 79tions that things were not going on well, in his constitution such as giddiness in his head, languor occasionally, and falling asleep after dinner.—He had a discharge of blood and slime which brought him to the edge of the grave in a few days.—He is a most able Man. His good sense and knowledge of things are consummate. I wish that the ministers would take his advice for there is a sad want of knowledge and of firmness and the Country is in a most awful state. The Monster1 is to be executed on Monday Morning I hope to procure, by means of the Poet Bowles a stand upon The top of Westminster Abbey whence I may see the Execution without risk or danger. It takes place on Monday Morning. I long to be with you for this London life does not agree—with me because If I am ever thrown out I cannot find leisure to recover.—

Did I tell you that Mr Henry Robinson took me to Mrs Charles Aikens, Daughter of Gilbert Wakefield. She is a most natural and pleasing Character but there unluckily I met the whole Gang among the rest the old Snake Letitia Barbauld. I had an altercation with Roscoes son upon Francis Burdett, and was so disgusted with the whole Gang save the Hostess that I was made ill. I had further to run a couple of miles to prevent my being locked out here, as I gave a general order that they were not to be sat up for me after 12.—I think of consulting some Physician upon the costiveness I feel and the great quantity of thin mucous which is involuntarily discharged from my bowels. It certainly implies that the stomach and bowels are in a most disordered State. Tell me how you are mind if you gather flesh.

Adieu. Best love to every body; I will walk into the city soon or perhaps to see Monkhouse. I have been obliged to get a new suit of Clothes with a new hat and silk stockings.

I cannot take leave of thee my beloved wife, on the other side of the Sheet, oh love me! and take care of thyself.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
5 This letter precedes MY pt. ii, L. 243. It was begun on D. W.'s and S. H.'s letter to M. W. of 11 May, which W. W. was forwarding to M. W. at Hindwell, and continued on a new sheet and franked on the 16th.
Editor’s Note
6 William Sturges-Bourne (1769–1845), M.P. for Christchurch, 1802–12, and 1818–26, for some time a Lord of the Treasury and Commissioner for Indian affairs, and then Home Secretary for a few months (1827) under his friend Canning before resigning his office to Lord Lansdowne and becoming Commissioner of Woods and Forests. He remained in Parliament till 1831.
Editor’s Note
1 W. W. had approached Lord Lonsdale on 6 Feb. (L. 236) about several impending vacancies, but the latter had replied on the 25th that he was unable to forward W. W.'s wishes at this time, 'but I hope to be more fortunate on some future occasion.' 'Whatever might have been the mode you had adopted to make your wishes known to me, you may be assured it would have had the effect of claiming that attention which my respect for your Talents and character would prompt me to shew you.' (WL MSS).
Editor’s Note
2 Contributed to written twice. W. W. takes a new cover at this point.
Editor’s Note
3 Written I had written every thing.
Editor’s Note
1 John Bellingham, Perceval's assassin, had been tried at the Old Bailey the previous day and was to be publicly hanged on 18 May, not in Palace Yard (as W. W. expected) but before Newgate.
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