William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 5: The Later Years: Part II: 1829–1834 (Second Revised Edition)

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651. W. W. and M. W. to EDWARD QUILLINAN

  • Address: Edward Quillinan Esqe, No 7. Rue des Bucherons, St Germain-en-Laye Via Paris.
  • Postmark: 21 Nov. 1831
  • Endorsed: 1831 Wordsworth Novbr 14. The difficulty of teaching Rotha to reflect.
  • MS. WL. Hitherto unpublished.

[In M. W.'s hand]

[14 Nov. 18313 or later]

My dear Mr Quillinan,

Your letter has given us all much concern—for myself tho' thoroughly aware how difficult to be resisted are the temptations which beset needy men, I had always made an exception in favor of Col. B.4 and even now would gladly hope that there was no act of willful deception on his part, which painful as the business is, and nearly as it concerns those most dear to you, would I am sure be felt as the worst portion of it. I have long been convinced that the Family5 was going to utter ruin—except as far as the barriers of preexisting legal Instruments might interpose for the preservation of its inheritances. Mr Wake6 has given you good advice when he tells you 'do not trust mortal man.' In what concerns your children, in fact, you have no right to do so. And if any Steps can be taken pg 451to recover what they may claim as their Mother's fortune, it is your duty to proceed with strictness: Moreover the fearful times in which we live, tho' they impose upon us the necessity of making up our minds to do with very little, precisely on that account, do they make it incumbent upon Fathers to guard what belongs to their children, as far as they are able, from private waste or Spoilation. With this I dismiss the painful subject. Do not make yourself anxious about dear Rotha—She is very well and happy, growing quite fat and taller withall. She is advancing with her books, and above all with the culture of the power of thought, in which she was exceedingly diffident,—being very quick and disposed to learn by the eye without reflexion. I must own to you that I think some disadvantage attends the pains that are here taken with her, inasmuch as she must feel herself of more importance than if she was learning the same sort of things with other pupils in a School. And this I have always considered as the great objection to private education. It unavoidably makes Children of too much importance in their own eyes—and if they be quick and clever will be apt to make them vain.

We had a very pleasant ramble in Scotland, of which you shall hear the details when we meet, which we hope will be on your return to England—We passed 3 days with Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford immediately before his departure. His friends said his health was much improved, therefore we may have hopes of its being reestablished. He went with us to Yarrow, which tempted me to write a third Poem Yarrow revisited.1 It has I fear one fault, being longer than either of the others. Lady F. Bentinck tells me by letter the other day, that she saw Rogers looking very ill—after severe illness—I have written to himself to make enquiry.2 Of Moxon I have heard nothing, since I refused to contribute to his Magazine.3 Truly sorry was I that he ventured upon any such undertaking.

I will say nothing of either Cholera or public Affairs—you will be well aware that I dread the moral and Political disease infinitely more than the natural. If you are in the way of hearing any thing about the comforts or expences of living on the French Side of the Pyrenees—about Pau or elsewhere—pray attend to the Subject and let me know what you learn.

  • ever affectionately yours        
  • [signed] W. W.

pg 452[M. W. writes]

My dear Friend,

Should you be again in the neighbourhood of Bolougne, Miss W. desires me to tell you that Mrs Slade Smith's (formerly Miss Barker)1 residence is, 'Villa de la Motte, a Hardinghen, près de Marquise,' and she wishes you would if you conveniently can, call upon her, and signify that you will convey letters or message to us—and further if you can hear any thing of Mr S. S. and his goings on. We thank you for your offer of services in the way of nick-nacking—but have no need to trouble you. Some trifling notes of commissions I believe would reach Bryanston St. after you had left—especially one from Willy to bring him a Coat—Now that your visit is so provokingly deferred, we have told him to be contented with his Carlisle Tailor and order it there. You will be glad to hear he is very happy in his new Situation2—tho' he left us in bad Spirits—feeling such an uncertainty in the continuance of his office, and of all other things in our poor Country. Dear Rotha is most happy to learn that Mimma is to return with you—She was often sad lately at the thought of their being parted long enough for a change to take place in either of them—'I would not like to see Mimma, nor any of them different from what they were' were her words to me the other day. She is a sweet Darling! and we shall be very sad when the time comes for us to part with her—We shall for our own sakes be apt to wish she had never come. But it would be cruel to wish to separate the darlings—and upon this account like Rotha I am glad you do not mean to leave Mimma in France. If you return soon after Xtmas the Season will be unfavorable, or it would be a pleasant thing if you brought Mima with you when you come. As to sending Eloiza for R. [that]3 is an absurd thought—A pretty creature like Eloiza—a nice Governess for R. in a Public Coach truly—Nay we shall keep her for a better escort I assure you. But I hope no impediment will prevent your fetching her yourself. With every good wish, for the termination of yr perplexities believe

me to be most faithfully yours

M. Wordsworth    

[There follows in M. W.'s hand Gold and Silver Fishes in a Vase, as in PW iv. 151, except in 1.37 read 'When they abate their fiery glare' and in 1.38 'Shapes' for 'forms'; and To Sir Walter Scott On his quitting Abbotsford for Naples, as in PW iii. 265, except in 1.1 read ' nor' for 'or'.]

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 This letter is written at the end of a letter from Rotha Quillinan to E. Q. and Jemima Q. bearing this date.
Editor’s Note
4 Col. Barrett.
Editor’s Note
5 i.e. the Brydges family, whose finances were in a tangled and parlous state. See Ernest de Selincourt, Wordsworthian and Other Studies, 1947, p. 39
Editor’s Note
6 E. Q.'s friend Charles Wake.
Editor’s Note
1 See L.645 above.
Editor’s Note
2 See L.649 above.
Editor’s Note
3 The Englishman's Magazine (see L.626 above).
Editor’s Note
1 Of Borrowdale.
Editor’s Note
2 As W. W.'s sub-distributor at Carlisle.
Editor’s Note
3 Word dropped out.
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