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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92. W. W. to LADY LE FLEMING

  • MS. WL transcript. Hitherto unpublished.

[late Jan. 1823]

Mr Wordsworth is far from desiring to entangle Lady le Fleming in a troublesome correspondence but he cannot refrain from expressing his sympathy with those feelings which have induced Lady le Fleming to decline meeting his wishes to honor the Verses by prefixing to them her name2—he will therefore not only abstain from introducing her Ladyship's name but will also alter the line in which Rydal is mentioned and take care that nothing shall be left in the poem which must obviously localize it—

Thus far Mr W. happily concurs3 with Lady le Fleming but tho aware that the Structure arose out of a view to private accomodation Mr W. cannot think that the founding of any building which pg 186forms a constituant part of the Church Establishment of England can under any circumstances take place without interesting a respectable portion of the community. Mr W. may be permitted to observe that Lady le F's view of the present case proceeds from that humility which leads the sincere Christian to think little of his own works—the same feeling which induced Lady le F. to wish that her name should be withheld. The Chapel which forms the subject of this poem cannot but be an object of general concernment both as an elegant Edifice ornamenting a most beautiful situation in a country resorted to by travellers from all parts of the world and as an instance of individual munificence unhappily too rare in this age.

The purpose of the verses being to support however humbly and feebly the cause of religion and piety especially as connected with the ordinances and institutions of the Church of England Mr W. is desirous that they should be published at this time when the Church is assaulted openly and unceasingly by enemies in all orders of society from the highest to the lowest. In a few days Mr W. will enclose a revised copy and if after what has been said and notwithstanding that this foundation has already at great length been noticed in newspapers and will be so again when it is consecrated Lady le Fleming should object to the verses being published1 Mr W. will suppress them altogether out of respect to the private feeling of One to whom this neighbourhood of Rydal is upon this as it has been upon many other occasions so deeply indebted.

[unsigned]  

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Notes

Editor’s Note
2 In an undated letter of this time, she had written: 'Lady le F. returns her thanks to Mr Wordsworth for the obliging wish expressed of placing her name with the Verses upon Rydall Chapel, but this she must decidedly decline as it would be most inconsistent for a Person whose general mode of life is so quiet and retired thus to intrude herself upon the Public … ' (WL MSS.).
Editor’s Note
3 agrees crossed out.
Editor’s Note
1 Lady le Fleming finally agreed to the publication of the verses the following Easter: 'The whole strain of the poetry is of so pious a nature that there can be no doubt of its strongly interesting all persons of a serious turn of mind' (WL MSS.). The poem was published in the Poetical Works of 1827.
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