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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776. W. W. to FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS

  • Address: Mrs Hemans.
  • Endorsed: Mr Wordsworth to Mrs Hemans 1833.
  • MS. Harvard University Library.
  • K (—). LY ii. 662.

[In M. W.'s hand]

Rydal Mount Aug 20th [1833]

My dear Mrs Hemans

It gave me much pleasure to hear from you once again, and by a letter of which your Son Charles was the Bearer; we were all glad to see how well he looks, how much he is grown, and what strength pg 637for walking and exercise he has acquired. It was agreeable to us also to make the acquaintance of Mr Graves,1 who appears to be very amiable; and he is certainly a Man of gentlemanly manners, of talents and thoroughly well-informed. Had my eyes permitted, but they are in a state which compels me to employ an Amanuensis, I might have been tempted to write at some length, but I must be short, for our house is overwhelmed with engagements at this Season.

We are concerned to hear that your health has not been good; as far as its improvement might depend upon a change of residence, if this Country should be your choice, gratifying as it would be to see you here again, I must in sincerity say, that taking the year thro', you would not be much of a gainer by the exchange. Ireland is no doubt upon the whole a moister Climate than England—but the more level parts of Ireland are I apprehend dryer than the mountainous parts of England, Scotland and Wales. The whole of the Eastern coast of Great Britain is much less moist than the Western.

The visit which occasioned the Poem addressed to Sir Walter Scott,2 that you mention in terms so flattering, was a very melancholy one—My daughter was with me; we arrived at his house on Monday noon, and left it at the same time on Thursday, the very day before he quitted Abbotsford for London, on his way to Naples. On the morning of our departure he composed a few lines for Dora's Album,3 and wrote them in it; we prize this Memorial very much, and the more so as an affecting testimony of his regard at the time, when as the verses prove, his health of body and powers of mind were much impaired and shaken. You will recollect the little green book, which you were kind enough to write in on its first page.

pg 638Let me hope that your health will improve, so that you may be enabled to proceed with the Sacred Poetry1 with which you are engaged—Be assured that I shall duly appreciate the mark of honor you design for me in connection with so interesting a work.

My Sister is much better than she was in the winter—being able to walk about in her room unsupported, and to take an airing in the carriage when the weather is favourable. She, Mrs W. and Dora all unite with me in kind remembrances, and good wishes for yourself and your Sons.

  • and believe me dear Mrs Hemans to be        
  • ever your faithful Friend     
  • [signed] Wm Wordsworth   

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 The Revd. Robert Perceval Graves (1810–93), son of Mrs. Hemans's Dublin doctor, was now completing his studies at Trinity College, Dublin. With his brother Charles (1812–99), later Bishop of Limerick, and Mrs. Hemans's son Charles (1817–76), the antiquary, Graves spent some time this summer in the Lakes, and got to know W. W. His letters to Mrs. Hemans of 12 and 18 Aug. (WL MSS.) paint an attractive picture of the Rydal Mount circle. Later, on 12 Oct., after his return to Dublin, he wrote to W. W. confessing his dislike of the 'uncongenial spirit' of the Irish Church and inquiring about the possibility of his obtaining a curacy in the Lake District. With W. W.'s help he eventually obtained the curacy of Bowness in Jan. 1835, which he happily occupied for thirty years, without seeking any further preferment, and became an intimate friend of the Wordsworths. See also Ls. 782 and 783 below. Graves later wrote the biography of his friend Sir William Rowan Hamilton, and some notable Recollections of Wordsworth and the Lake Country (1863).
Editor’s Note
3 See F. V. Morley, Dora Wordsworth, Her Book, 1924, pp. 78–9.
Editor’s Note
1 Mrs. Hemans published her Scenes and Hymns of Life, with other Religious Poems in 1834. The volume was dedicated to W. W. See L. 817 below.
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