Dorothy 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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pg 360169. D. W. to THOMAS DE QUINCEY

  • Address: Thomas De Quincey, Esqre, No 8 Dowry Parade, Clifton, near Bristol. Readdressed to Wrington.
  • Stamp: Kendal.
  • MS. Miss Maud Craig.
  • Japp. K. MY i. 386, p. 329.

  • Grasmere Thursday. I believe about the 25 June [1809]
  • [perhaps Thursday 22 June]

My dear Friend,

It is so long since we have heard from you that I cannot help writing to inquire after you, though I have only time to scribble a few lines. Mrs. Cookson of Kendal has been spending a week with us, and she is just going away, and will carry my letter to the post office. Sometimes we fancy that you are on the point of setting off to Grasmere, and therefore have delayed writing, and at times I, being of a fearful temper, fancy that you are ill; but I think it is most probable that you are so much engaged with your own Family as not to have time to write a long letter, and that you do not think it worth while to send a short one—but whatever may have hitherto been the cause of your silence, do write, if but three lines, to tell us how you are, and when we are likely to see you again—We have been so long used to receive your letters regularly that we take very ill to this long privation of that pleasure. My Brother is this morning gone out upon a fishing party with Mr. Wilson and 'his Merry Men,' as William calls them. They have a tent and large store of provisions, and they intend to travel from one Tarn to another and lodge in their tent upon the mountains—Mr. Wilson intends to spend a week in this manner, but how long William will stay I know not—most likely he will be tired before the end of the week.1 At all events Mr. Wilson is to be ready with his Boats next Thursday, and we are to spend that day together on Windermere, the day of dear Dorothy's return—Miss Weir and D. and the Cooksons are to meet us at Bowness. We have had some wet weather; but it is now perfect summer again, and we have spent several happy days in the open air. On Monday we went to Coniston in a cart, and ate our dinner in a Field near the Lake. We wished for you.

Your Cottage is painted, and I hope will be ready by the end pg 361of the next week or the beginning of the week after. It will be very beautiful next summer, but this year's roses have been almost all destroyed with repairing the rough-cast and whitewashing the outer walls. Ned Wilson has made deal Bookcases, but in consideration of your having mentioned mahogany for the Bookshelves, we have got all the rest of the furniture of mahogany. We were doubtful about it before, the native woods being at present so very dear, but your mention of mahogany and the consideration that in case you should leave the country and have a sale, decided us; for no sort of wood sells so well at second-hand as mahogany. We advise you to purchase a stock of tea before you come, the tea sold here being very bad and very dear—we always get ours from London. You must also bring silver spoons.

Johnny improves daily; he is certainly the sweetest creature in the world, he is so very tender-hearted and affectionate—he longs for your return, and I think he will profit more than ever by your conversation, though great was the improvement that you wrought in him; indeed he owes more to you than to any one else for the softening of his manners. He is not famous for making extraordinary speeches, but I must tell you one pretty thing that he said the other day. His mother and he were walking in the lane, and, looking at the daisies upon the turf, he said, 'Mother, the poor little daisies are forsaken now.' 'Forsaken, Johnny! What for?' 'Well, because there are so many other pretty flowers.' Now for a specimen of his logic, having given you one of his poetical fancy. He came running to me with 'Aunt, may I tell you what. Chips are water.' 'Water! how's that, Johnny?' 'Well,' he replied, 'you know when chips are burnt in the fire, they go up into the clouds in smoke, and the clouds make rain, so chips are water, and I told Sally that she was washing me in chips.' He was much entertained with this last original joke; but the other part of the process seemed to delight him as a discovery, adieu, my dear Friend. God bless you. You will be right welcome to Grasmere again.

  • Yours most affectionately,    
  • D. W.  

Coleridge has been with us nearly a fortnight. He is in good spirits, and going on with his work.1 Of course you have seen his second number—there were a few things in it which gave us pain, and we wished he had abided more closely to his promise.—We have heard from several quarters that the pamphlet has made pg 362considerable impression—I mean among a few. Sometimes I have been afraid that the carrier lost my last letter to you. It was directed to Clifton. I should be sorry for this, as it was a long letter, though perhaps not very entertaining. Do write immediately.

Coleridge has desired me to open my letter to beg you to bring the Sanskrit MS. and his logical manuscripts.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 This expedition, which eventually reached Wast Water, was commemorated by Wilson in his poem The Angler's Tent. See Poetical Works of John Wilson (1874), p. 257.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. with the Friend. For S.T.C's arrival, see L. 167, p. 355.
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