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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pg 10352. D. W. to CATHERINE CLARKSON

  • Address: Mrs Clarkson, Playford Hall, Ipswich, Suffolk. (Single).
  • Postmark: 16 Jan. 1822.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • Endorsed: 1822.
  • MS. British Museum.
  • K (—). LY i. 61.

16th Jan. [1822]

My dearest Friend,

On the faith of the old proverb I am willing to believe that if any evil had befallen you we should have heard of it; yet I cannot be easy under your long silence.—I did indeed anxiously expect a letter for a long time, till at last at the opening of the leather bag I have said, or thought—'there will be no letter from Mrs Clarkson!' and am now completely settled in my mind that I shall hear no more from you till you are roused by a letter from me.—Sometimes (but I instantly rejected that thought) I have fancied that our joke on poor fallen royalty1 had in connection with us been displeasing to you—that you had felt in reading the foolish rhymes, as if we had played too lightly with sacred feelings, and therefore (wanting sympathy with us) had felt no inclination to write.—Yet still I am sorry that I ever committed them to paper; thinking that, at all events, while those innocent Beings were at your side, who had suffered so much from the Death of Christophe (and perhaps still more from his ungovernable passions) you were little likely to cast off serious thoughts and feelings at once and transport yourself to our fire-side partaking of its half-hour's mirth. I am afraid you have not seen Henry Robinson since he was at Rydal, as, when he wrote to us some weeks after the time was passed at which you talked of going to London, and you had not been there, nor had he heard you were expected. I wish you may tell us that, instead of a journey to London, you are meditating a journey to the North next summer. You said in your last that your Husband seemed to look with favour on the scheme; and the recollection of that gives me some hope that it will be executed—even in spite of the low price of com, and all other grievances. I had just left you this time last year. My dear Friend I marked the anniversary of the day of our meeting—have thought of you every day since, more than usual, and especially upon those two when we always look back, and forward—Christmas day and New Year's day. I suppose your little scholars were assembled again in the decorated kitchen to their plum pudding and Beef—Poor things! what a cold day it was last pg 104year! and how they enjoyed your good fire! This year we have had no frosts of the same kind as that short but severe one which bound up the moats round Playford Hall. There has been with us one week of delightful sunshine and frost—and now we have weather as mild as the best in spring-time. But what a stormy season for the four months preceding! Yet this country never suffers from floods—and as to winds, we, at Rydal Mount are so sheltered that we only hear their music among the trees—or their driving through the valley below us, or over the mountains above our heads. This is indeed a great blessing. We have not so much as had a slate blown off while some of our neighbours have been so terrified as not to be able to lie in their beds. William and I have walked daily through all the stormy Season—but poor Mary has a stiffness in one of her toes, which though in itself a trifle, prevents her from walking with her accustomed freedom. In other respects she is quite well. William has written some beautiful poems in remembrance of our late Tour. If you should go to London Mr Monkhouse will show them to you, he having a copy. I think of their kind he never wrote anything that was more delightful. He began (as in connection with my 'Recollections of a Tour in Scotland'1) with saying 'I will write some Poems for your journal', and I thankfully received two or three of them as a tribute to the journal, which I was making from notes, memoranda taken in our last summer's journey on the Continent; but his work has grown to such importance (and has continued growing) that I have long ceased to consider it in connection with my own narrative of events unimportant, and lengthy descriptions, which can only interest friends, or a few persons, who enjoying mountain scenery especially, may wish for minute details of what they can never hope to view with their own eyes—or perhaps a few others who have themselves visited the countries which we visited.—The poems are as good as a descriptive tour—without describing. I was going to say more about them; but I will leave you to judge for yourself. The Ecclesiastical Sonnets, meanwhile, are at rest. Dorothy has left school; and you may be sure we are happy to have her at home. She is not yet in confirmed good health, though not so subject to take cold as formerly, and, as she has no apparent weakness we trust that fresh air and regular exercise (she cannot now bear long walks) will in the course of a few months restore her to that state in which it is so pleasant to see young people—equable looks and fearless activity. John leaves us next Monday. He is wonderfully improved pg 105in appearance during the last half-year, has cast off a portion of his rusticity, and his limbs are knitting together—they do not look so large and clumsy as last year. When I returned last year I thought him a perfect Langdale Rustic in appearance.—But these things are trifling. He has a manly generous mind—gentle dispositions and a serious love of study. Indeed he is a thoroughly excellent Youth. And will, I am confident, in time, be more than a respectable scholar. It is greatly to be lamented that he was not earlier sent from home. As to dear little William—he has been sent away soon enough; but he has not profited by the advantage. His attainments were worse than nothing in Latin the last holidays, and his Uncle gives no better report at present; therefore his Father intends in three months to take him from the Charter House. You will perceive that without reasonable grounds for believing that his improvement was in some degree proportionate to the expense, it would be very unwise in my Brother to let him remain there. It is not yet decided to what school he is to go. Probably it will be Sedbergh, yet the objections to that, and any Northern School are very great; while on the other hand, if he were sent to a school in the South, it would be making a second experiment, when there is no time to be lost—and the distance from home was always an object of the utmost importance. Have you seen George Airey this Christmas? I hear from all the Cambridge men that he, decidedly, is to be the Senior Wrangler1 of his year.—I wish you may have had both your Son and your Brothers to enliven your Christmas. How is your Sister? and how goes on the little Boy? and how the Farm?—and are you at Playford making greater gains or rather smaller losses than last year? They are doing no better in Wales—I trust Tom is flourishing though not rapidly—for that is not to be expected—pray tell us how the business advances. If he keeps his health I have no doubts about him for what he likes he will do and do well. Remember me kindly to Mr and Mrs Biddle—and to Elizabeth, and give my very best love to Mr Clarkson. All join in wishing you both many happy years believe me ever, my dearest Friend your

affectionate Dorothy Wordsworth.  

Willy does not yet know he is to leave the Charter House and perhaps may not be told immediately.

I hope you have good tidings from your Friend La Roche.2—How is the family at Woodbridge?

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
1 i.e. the parody of Ben Jonson's 'Queen and Huntress chaste and fair' in L. 46 above.
Editor’s Note
1 DWJ i. 195 ff. Cf. EY, pp. 605–6, 652–4.
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