William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Alan G. Hill (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 4: The Later Years: Part I: 1821–1828 (Second Revised Edition)

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pg 198101. W. W. to JOHN KENYON

  • Address: John Kenyon Esqre 59 Pulteney Street, Bath.
  • Postmark: 17 May 1823.
  • MS. untraced.
  • Transactions of the Wordsworth Society, no. 6, p. 91. K (—). LY i. 108.

[In M. W.'s hand]

Lee Priory, May 16th [1823]

My dear Friend,

Your very welcome letter followed me to this place; the account it gave of your happiness and comfort was such as we wished to hear—may the like blessings be long, very long, continued to you—changing their character only according to the mildest influences of time! You gave me liberty to reply to your letter as might suit what you knew of my procrastinating disposition—I caught at this, but be assured you would have heard from me immediately if I could have held out any hopes, either to myself or you, that we should be able to accept of your kind invitation to visit you and Mrs K. (with whom we should be most happy to become acquainted) at Bath. We came hither 5 weeks ago, meaning after a fortnight's stay to cross the Channel for a little Tour in Flanders and Holland—but we had calculated, as the saying is, without our Host—the Spring was tardy and froward—when a day or two of fine weather came, they were followed by blustering, and even tempestuous, winds—these abated, and out came my own vernal enemy, the Inflammation in my eyes, which dashed our resolutions, and here I am, still obliged to employ Mrs W. as my amanuensis.

This day however being considerably better we shall go to Dover with a view to embark for Ostend to-morrow; unless detained by similar obstacles. From Ostend we mean to go to Ghent, to Antwerp, Breda, Utrecht, Amsterdam—to Rotterdam by Harlem, the Hague and Leyden—thence to Antwerp by another route, and perhaps shall return by Mechlin, Brussels, Lille and Ypres to Calais—or direct to Ostend as we came. We hope to be landed in England within a month.1 We shall hurry thro' London homewards, where we are naturally anxious already to be, having left Rydal Mount so far back as February.

pg 199Now for a word about yourself, my dr Friend. You had long been followed, somewhat blindly, by our good wishes; we had heard nothing of you, except thro' Mr Quillinan and from Mr Monkhouse. If there was any fault in your not writing sooner, you made amends by entering so kindly into the particulars of what you had done and proposed to do; where you are living, and how you were as to estate, body and mind. It is among my hopes that, either in Westmoreland or West of England, I may at no very distant time be a witness of your happiness; and notwithstanding all my faults and waywardnesses, have an opportunity of recommending myself to the good graces of your Help-mate.

I have time for little more; as, in an hour and a half, we must leave our good friends here—this elegant Conventual Mansion,1 with its pictures and its books, and bid a farewell to its groves and nightingales, which this morning have been singing divinely—by the bye it has been so cold that they are silent during the season of darkness. These delights we must surrender and take our way on foot three miles along the pleasant banks of Stour to fall in with the Dover coach. At this moment the S.W. wind is blustering abominably, and whirling the leaves and blossoms about in a way that reminds me of the tricks it is playing with the surf on the naked coast of Ostend—but courage! we depart with many good wishes, to which yours shall be added as no act of presumption on our part. God bless you and yours! and grant us a happy meeting if not in this world, in a better! to which my wife says Amen.

  • Ever affly yours,
  • [signed] Wm Wordsworth    

If you should be in London about a month hence let us know by a letter to the Post Off. Dover, as we should be sorry to pass thro' without a glimpse of you.

John is at New Coll. Oxford. Should you pass enquire after him—he would be overjoyed to see you.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 The tour in Belgium and Holland, which followed the route outlined here by W. W., began on 16 May and ended on 11 June. M. W.'s unpublished MS. Journal (among the WL MSS.) concludes, 'Adventures we have had few—William's eyes being so much disordered and so easily aggravated made him shun society and crippled us in many respects, but I trust we have stored up thoughts and Images that will not die.' See also Mem. ii. 116–20.
Editor’s Note
1 W. W. is speaking in fun of James Wyatt's Gothic mansion built for Thomas Barrett in 1783 (and now demolished): acknowledged by Horace Walpole as 'a child of Strawberry, prettier than the parent'. It was here in 1813 that Sir Egerton Brydges set up the private printing press famed for its reprints of earlier English literature.
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