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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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369. W. W. to ALLAN CUNNINGHAM

  • Address: William Wordsworth Esq, Rydal Mount, Kendal, Westmorland
  • [readdressed to] Alan Cunningham Esq, F. Chantreys Esq, Pimlico, London.
  • Postmark: (1) 3 Nov. 1828 (2) 11 Nov. 1828.
  • Stamp: [? Kendal Penny Post].
  • MS. Mr. Robert H. Taylor.
  • K (—). LY i. 316.

[11 Nov. 1828]

My dear Friend,

I send back your preface1 with two or three verbal alterations: there is no need of Mr Southey's assistance—it will do as it is.—I wish the Selection may answer the purpose, for myself I can form no conjecture.2—I congratulate you on the success of your Annual3—I am engaged on the same terms for the Keepsake,4 and am not quite easy under the engagement as I have not written a line, nor am in possession of one which would answer their purpose—so that I really could not promise a contribution to any other work of the kind, were the publishers prepared to pay me at the rate which I am at liberty to accept. I regret this both on your account and for Mr Alaric Watts whom I wished to serve.

I send you back your own Letter thinking it may save you some trouble of transcription—I see that 'Simon Lee' is down on your pg 654list.—I could wish that Piece to be slightly altered thus. The 2nd Stanza to be transposed and to stand as the 4th thus altered

  •             But oh the heavy change! bereft
  •             Of strength, of Friends and kindred, see etc

The next Stanza to begin thus

And he is lean etc

[unsigned]

[In Dora W.'s hand]

Is the Bust sent off to Mr Charles Wordsworth Christ Church Oxon? Do you know the address of Mr James Wilson1 of Edinburgh, Brother to the Professor. He wishes for one to be sent to him to Edinburgh by sea.

[At the bottom of the page containing the proposed Preface W. W. writes]

Excuse this verbal alteration. I hope care will be taken that the Vol. is correctly printed.

[At the bottom of the page of Contents W. W. writes]

Would not 'Repentance a pastoral Ballad' 'The Affliction of Margaret' 'The Childless Father' and 'Address to a Child during a boisterous Winter Evening' be suitable?—and if you want a long piece 'The Brothers' or the Tale of 'Ellen' in the Excursion. Would not also the two April mornings and The Fountain a Conversation suit?

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 Cunningham had written on 3 Nov. about his proposed Selection of Wordsworth, enclosing a draft preface and table of contents (see Appendix II). 'From such a pen as mine this Preface ought not to come—our friend Southey is the man for it and I only rough-write mine to show you with what perfect willingness and honest feeling I contemplate the task.'
Editor’s Note
2 Cunningham had written by the same post to Oliver and Boyd of Edinburgh offering them the volume: 'I have requested to know how much they will give the Poet for leave to Print 4,000 Copies.' W. W.'s somewhat noncommittal reply now may have been due to his refusal the previous April to accept Oliver and Boyd's terms for a similar Selection (see L. 332 above), and he was in any case anxious that sales of the Poetical Works of 1827 should not suffer (see L. 201 above). The proposed Selection was in fact never published.
Editor’s Note
3 Six thousand copies of The Anniversary had already been sold.
Editor’s Note
4 i.e. for the following year.
Editor’s Note
1 James Wilson (1795–1856), Scottish zoologist and entomologist, who referred to W. W. as his 'mind's father', first met the poet in the summer of 1824 when he was staying with his brother Professor Wilson at Elleray, and he subsequently visited the Lakes regularly, seeing much of the Wordsworths. See James Hamilton, Memoirs of the Life of James Wilson Esq … . of Woodville, 1859.
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