William Wordsworth, Mary Wordsworth [Hutchinson]

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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42. W. W. and M. W. to JOHN KENYON

  • Address: John Kenyon Esqre, Leamington.
  • MS. untraced.
  • Transactions of the Wordsworth Society, no. 6, p. 83. K. LY i. 50.
  • [In M. W.'s hand]

Rydal Mount, Sept. 22d, 1821.

My dear Sir,

My eyes are better than when you were here, but an amanuensis is still expedient, and Mrs W. therefore writes for me to the whistling of as melancholy a wind as ever blew, coming as it does after a long series of broken weather, which has been injurious to the harvest, and when we were calculating upon a change for the better. The season with us has been much less unfavourable, I fear, than in many other parts,—though our exercise has never been altogether prevented, and we have had some beautiful days. Two schemes of 'particular pleasure' have been frustrated thus far, a 2d trip to Borrowdale—including the summit of Scawfell—and, pg 83for my daughter and her school-companions, an excursion to Furness Abbey. Anxiously have they looked in vain for steadily bright weather—thinking, poor things, little about the spoiling of the crops by the damp days, rains, and winds.

Since your departure we have seen no Persons of note except Dr Holland,1 the Albanian Traveller, and otherwise less agreeably distinguished. We have two additional neighbours (not to speak of the new-born Rotha, for that name the infant is to bear in honour of the stream upon whose banks she was born) under Mr Quillinan's roof, in the persons of Colonel Holmes2 and his lady, sister to Mrs Q. The Col is a good-natured old soldier, who has risen without purchase to his present rank, and stood the brunt of war in the Peninsula and in America. At Ambleside there was a gay ball; for such it appeared to many contributors to its splendour but not so to the paradoxical lady of Calgarth:3 she thought nothing of it, because there was no gentleman there, as she said, 'above five feet 8 inches,'—though there were present two handsome officers, one a Waterloo Medalist, and both of good stature. This Lady's ideal of a partner, and such she hoped to meet—is a 'tall slender person with black hair and a bald front'—what a pity that you, or your Brother, could not have been put into a stretching Machine, and conveyed to Ambleside by steam, through the air, or under the Earth. Fashion and fancy, I can assure you, run high in this neighbourhood as to these matters.

At Keswick resides a Miss Stanger, her Father4 a Cheapside Trader who has built a house near the Vicarage: this Lady, celebrated for beauty, enviable for fortune, would not allow that a Ball could be mustered at Keswick by all the Collegians there—'send for pg 84a parcel of officers from Carlisle,' said she, 'and then something may be done.' What a slight upon the gown, and from a Blue-stocking Lady too, who is an Eléve of Mrs Grant1 of the Mountains! 'Come, come,' said she to a young Oxonian, 'let us walk out this evening that I may catch a cold, and have an excuse for not going to the thing!' [S. H. adds: Not true, she said the Ball. S. H.]

Dear Mr Kenyon,

Writing in my own name, I thank you, while William is taking a turn, after dictating the above flourish, for your agreeable and acceptable present which was duly received. The Chart shall be forwarded to the address, as soon as we can procure any that we know to be excellent. I shall anxiously expect your next commission, which I hope will be to look out for a house—by-the-bye Mr. Gee has taken one at Keswick so it will be well to know what Mr Tillbrook means to do with the Ivy Cot, which will be vacant next Whitsuntide. But I must not consume more space, as W. is not done. Very sincerely yours,

Willy leaves us to-morrow.

M. W.

[W. W. adds]

I was going to say something about your tour, but Mrs W. tells me that what I meant to speak of was mentioned when you were here, so nothing remains but good wishes in which all my family join, both to yourself and to your brother, who stands in particular need of them if he meditates Marriage.

  • Very affectionately yours,      
  • Wm Wordsworth  

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 Sir Henry Holland, Bart. (1788–1873), physician, related through his mother to the Wedgwood family, and a cousin of Mrs. Gaskell the novelist. In 1815 he published Travels in the Ionian Isles, Albania, Thessaly, Macedonia, etc., during 1812 and 1813 (2nd edn., 1819). His 'less agreeable distinction' was that he had been medical attendant to the Princess of Wales, later Queen Caroline, and in 1820 testified before the Parliamentary Committee that, so far as he had seen, her conduct with Bergami had been free from impropriety. In his later years he was a well-known figure in London society. His second wife was the elder daughter of Sydney Smith, and author of the Memoir of her father.
Editor’s Note
2 Col. George Holmes, C.B. (d. 1833), of the dragoons, who had married Elizabeth (d. 1853), eldest daughter of Sir Egerton Brydges, in 1817. His epitaph in Doncaster Parish Church was composed by E. Q. See his Poems … with a Memoir by William Johnston, 1853, p. 215.
Editor’s Note
3 i.e. Mrs. Watson, widow of the Bishop of Llandaff, who lived at Calgarth Hall (see MY ii. 332).
Editor’s Note
4 James Stanger (1796–1866) of St. Anne's Hill, Wandsworth, and Lairthwaite, Keswick, an estate adjoining Crosthwaite Church: philanthropist and Evangelical churchman.
Editor’s Note
1 Mrs. Anne Grant of Laggan (1755–1838), author of the popular Letters from the Mountains, 3 vols., 1806. Her beliefs were markedly Evangelical. See J. P. Grant, Memoir and Correspondence of Mrs Grant of Laggan, 3 vols., 1844.
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