Dorothy 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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  • Address: Miss Elizabeth Crumpe, Liverpool.
  • MS. WL.
  • LY i. 195.

Friday Morning [late Apr. 1825]

My dear Elizabeth,

Mr Wm Jackson brought me your letter yesterday morning he having met with your Brother at Ambleside on his way from Mr John Wakefield's where he had been spending one night. I hope John4 will be able to come to see us to-day, as Mr Jackson goes in the afternoon, but he said he was so busy that he could spare but little time; however he will certainly not set off for Liverpool without looking in on us, at least, at Rydal Mount, therefore I prepare a few lines for you, to be ready.

Jane Harden has told us that you were likely to be here on your way to Scotland and I cannot tell you how much I was pleased with the expectation of seeing you, and my disappointment was very great on learning from yourself that the journey was put off for another year. I have often thought of your kindness and of the quiet pg 339time we spent together two years ago. The same season of the year brings back vividly my recollections. Thank God, I am in much stronger health than at that time. When the air is clear I can walk nine or ten miles or more with as little fatigue as ever I did in my life. My Sister has had a very bad lingering cold, and has lately looked very ill. She is however now quite recovered and has enjoyed the delightful spring as much as any of us, though she is not yet able to take what I call a long walk. Poor Dora looks very ill, she has been worried with the toothache and at last had a tooth drawn. Since that time her appetite has been wretched and her stomach not in proper tone, yet she always says she is well, being, as you know, no complainer. She has an immense family of Chickens, Ducks, and Turkeys—of great use at present as inducements to exercise without fatigue, walking does not at present suit her, and her pony has been lame. We hope it is almost well, and that daily rides will soon set her right.

My Brother's eyes are certainly better. He can read by daylight. He is well and in good spirits. Willy just as usual as to liveliness and activity and his health good all winter. John left us on Wednesday for Oxford. In six weeks he will return with Miss Hutchinson who will meet him at Birmingham after an absence of two years and a half. She is at present assisting Mrs Hutchinson to settle in her new house, Brinsop Court, near Hereford. You know what a melancholy duty she had to perform in the autumn and winter attending our lamented Friend Mr Thomas Monkhouse. Mrs Monkhouse is now, I suppose, about to return to her Father's house at Preston. She and Miss Horrocks have been for some weeks at Clifton, where Mr M. died. They accompanied Miss Hutchinson to Mr Monkhouse's (The Stowe) in Herefordshire immediately after the funeral, and after three weeks stay there the poor widow went with Miss Horrocks and her child back to Clifton.

I wish, my dear Elizabeth, you could see how pretty the chapel tower looks from my bedroom, where I now write, and how charming the prospect. It would chear your spirits which I am grieved to find are so drooping—indeed my dear Friend, your letter has given me much pain, along with the pleasure of hearing from you. But why not rouze yourself? Why lament for the Past? Rather should you rejoice in your escape for which I know you are thankful.1

pg 340We are very sorry to part with Mr Jackson so soon. He seems to enjoy the quiet of this place and release from labour, yet is too zealous in the performance of his duties to consent to stay longer away from them. He is thin; but looks remarkably well, and we all think his health much improved. Mrs Luff is very busy beautifying Fox Ghyll. It will be a very pretty place, but nothing would have tempted me to undertake so much care, labour, and anxiety, were I, at my time of life, put into a situation similar to hers. I would have housed myself in a Lodging and been free to visit my Friends whenever I pleased. I must say however for Mrs Luff that she has an admirable talent for contrivance of Buildings etc, which I have not. She likes overlooking workmen—I detest it. My dear Elizabeth, this is another bad scrawl. I expect every moment to be summoned to walk with Mr Jackson to Spring Cottage where Mrs Luff now lodges. He is going to settle with her about the time of her going to Whitehaven to order furniture.

Mrs John Harden was much shaken by her Sister's death, and has since been very ill and looks wretchedly. The old lady1 too is far from well. Mr Harden as gay as usual. No doubt you have heard of the decamping of their last tenants and of some of Mr Douglas's2 swindling tricks. You do not mention Louisa's health. How is she? and how are her spirits? Give my kindest love to your dear Father and Mother and to all your sisters. I hope John's health is pretty good, God bless you dearest Elizabeth, Believe me ever your affectionate Friend,

D. Wordsworth.

I am sorry I have no hope of the school succeeding at Ambleside, as a Boarding School. Hartley3 has no concern in the Establishment pg 341except as classical teacher that is—he is to pay for his Board, and to be paid for his own scholars. This is well. No time to read what I have written, so excuse all blunders, etc. etc.

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Editor’s Note
4 John Crump, the Liverpool wine merchant.
Editor’s Note
1 Elizabeth Crump's engagement to the doctor (see L. 110 above) had been suspended the previous autumn. 'Shall I or shall I not congratulate you on your escape (at least for the present) from a voyage to India?' Dora wrote on 27 Dec. 1824: ' … Putting self out of the question I feel convinced it is for the best. You say you did not love him, and to make one happy or even able to leave Father, Mother, Sisters, and Brothers, for such a length of time and such a length of distance! must require no common degree of love and affection.' (WL MSS.)
Editor’s Note
1 John Harden's mother, formerly Jane Webster (1749–1829), who had a cottage at Rotha Bridge (see SH, p. 331).
Editor’s Note
2 Presumably Mr. Harden's tenant at Brathay Hall.
Editor’s Note
3 Hartley had written to Elizabeth Crump on 9 June 1824: 'I am fagging on in the regular jog-trot line of my business, which is about poetry instead of writing it, without much hope or fear as to my present existence, the happier for not expecting much happiness. I am, I think cured by this time of a very common and plausible but very dangerous error, that of expecting positive pleasure from the performance of ordinary duties. All we have a right to look for, is an exemption from the haunting pain which avenges their infraction. Moralists, those especially who write for youth, are too apt to hold out deceitful lures to good conduct, promising a sort of peace of mind, an inward satisfaction, which experience does not justify them in holding forth as a necessary effect, even of the highest Virtue, I mean in this world. Most persons have felt the wretchedness of self-reproach, and hence readily imagine that there must be an express enjoyment in self-approbation, but I am inclined to think that neither the pain nor the enjoyment, where it exists, are safe criterions of the moral sense, often deriving their weakness or intensity from the physical constitution and being often inseparably confounded with fear, shame, vanity … ' The recent introduction of boarders into the school had led to a renewal of anxiety about Hartley among the Wordsworth circle, from which he cut himself off for long periods; and Sara Coleridge, writing from Rydal Mount on 15 Apr., had felt impelled to reassure Elizabeth Crump about the extent of her brother's responsibilities: 'You must understand, ma chère, that he will have nothing to do with the boarding part of the concern: that would not be advisable for him for reasons that you will readily perceive from your knowledge of my dear brother's character.' (WL MSS.)
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