William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 2: The Middle Years: Part I: 1806–1811 (Second Revised Edition)

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150. W. W. to THOMAS DE QUINCEY

  • Address: Thomas de Quincey Esqre, 82 Great Titchfield Street, Cavendish Square, London.
  • Postmark: Apr. 10, 1809.
  • MS. Miss Maud Craig.
  • K. MY i. 366, p. 284.

Grasmere Friday [7 Apr. 1809]

My dear Friend,

I returned home last Wednesday after a very agreeable excursion of five days,1 and had the satisfaction of finding everybody well; though Catharine still looks very puny. I saw little Dorothy at Penrith for about an hour; she is very well; and was as glad to see me as sorry to part from me, crying bitterly and clinging round me.——

It gives me great concern to find that after all your fatigue, confinement, and vexation, you should have suffered such mortification as you express from such a quarter.—As I have always found that explanations by letter in cases of this kind only aggravate the evil, by furnishing new matter for misconception on both sides I shall not say much upon this subject, after having expressed the deep sorrow which I feel upon the occasion.—Concerning your feelings I may be mistaken; concerning my own I cannot; I shall therefore confine myself to this subject, well aware however that, though I can be pg 318under no mistake myself here, it is not improbable that I may so imperfectly express myself as to occasion mistake on your part.—

My reasons for suppressing the note1 were fourfold. First, that any note, especially in an animated part of a composition, checks the current of thought or feeling and therefore is in its nature objectionable, 2ndly, all that was necessary in this case might be provided for as well in the general advertizement; 3rdly, and far above all, because it seemed to me that a note to the effect of yours would completely anticipate and therefore render intolerably heavy what had been said by me in the additions to the text where Saragossa is again mentioned, and it seemed desirable to say what I had said in the text; at all events it was easier to strike out a note than a passage from the text which might render necessary other omissions; and 4thly, I thought that it was injurious to the cause and to the people of Saragossa to admit for a moment that any one could imagine that this prophecy had not been fulfilled. These were the considerations which inclined me to request that leaf should be cancelled, nor, though at the time I most exceedingly regretted the trouble you had been at, did I doubt that, after you had seen the additions I had sent, you would feel as strongly as myself the necessity that either the note should be suppressed or those additions, and that, as the latter was not likely to be done without consulting me, the former would of course be deemed necessary as the lesser of the two evils.—

I never did suppose that you drew conclusions unfavourable to Saragossa from the french Bulletins, on the contrary, I was sure that your opinions and my own would be coincident.—But I must quit the subject, my penmanship is very bad, and my head aches miserably; I am also in other respects not well.—

I have seen a hint in one of the Papers about some letters of David Baird2 to the same tune as Moore's.—The letters themselves I have not seen—and am very sorry that, not having the whole of this correspondence, I cannot write the note on Moore's representation myself, to rid you of a responsibility which must be unpleasing to you. You will therefore act exactly as you think proper, either make a comment on these papers or not.—They are certainly a libel on the Spanish Nation, and ought by some body or pg 319other to be exposed as such. Foolish fellow! with a frenchified mind! to quote that miserable frenchman's account of the state of public spirit in Spain with approbation. 'Toujours la même incredulité sur nos avantages!' What symptom could be more favorable! does not it necessarily imply that the Spaniards had such confidence in their strength and the justice of their cause, that their serenity could not be disturbed!

I am well satisfied with the manner in which you have filled up the imperfect sentence—how it happened to be left so I know not.—

Pray let a copy be sent to Sir George Beaumont, Grosvenor Square.—

The copy for Curwen1 may be sent down hither as I learn he is at Workington Hall.—

A body of The English were turned and broken, and therefore technically vanquished at the battle in Egypt, which decided the fate of the campaign; that in which Abercrombie was killed.2 And General Reynier in his account makes it a matter of reproach to them that they did not surrender, this being the case; as I believe any other troops would have done—my argument is not affected by any subsequent formation of themselves which these men might make, as it was to their individual courage that they were indebted for the power of making this formation if it was made.—As to the affair of Corunna the whole Battle from Hope's3 own account, appears to have been out of the rules of the Art of War from the beginning to end, and is I believe the strongest case in point that could be given; but on this I do not insist. Therefore, the word Corunna may be omitted.——

I cannot pen better, and therefore must conclude,

  • Very affectionately yours      
  • W. Wordsworth.   

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
1 i.e. to Appleby and Penrith. See L. 149.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. the 'note on Saragossa'. See L. 143 pp. 298–9 and note.
Editor’s Note
2 General Sir David Baird (1757–1829), the distinguished soldier, whose famous march across the desert with Indian troops to the Nile was instrumental in the expulsion of the French from Egypt in 1801. In 1808 he was sent to Spain to reinforce Moore, and took part in the retreat to Corunna where he was severely wounded.
Editor’s Note
1 See L. 147, p. 311, n.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. the Battle of Alexandria, 21 Mar. 1801. Sir Ralph Abercromby (1734–1801), distinguished for his interest in the welfare of the common soldiers, had been sent to Egypt with a large force to expel the army left there by Napoleon. He was killed in the battle on the sea'shore near Alexandria, the first important British victory on land in the war with Napoleon.
Editor’s Note
3 General Sir Alexander Hope of Craighall (1769–1837), M.P. for Linlithgow, W. W. is probably referring to.
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