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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450a. W. W. to D. W.

  • Address: Miss Wordsworth, Saltmarsh, Howden.1
  • Franked: Penrith fifth August 1829 Lonsdale.
  • MS. WL Hitherto unpublished.

  • Lowther Castle Wednesday.
  • [5 Aug. 1829]

My dearest Sister,

I send you three little copies of verses,2 which may perhaps amuse you at a distance; if read at home with your heart so full as it will be then I hope of pleasant things, they would scarcely have told.

On Sunday I left Rydal on Sara's pony, James on Dora's, meaning to go to Hallsteads that day and to Lowther next—but I found Mr and Mrs W. M.3 at Patterdale and they laid an Embargo upon me. Mrs W. looks delicate, but she has got a fine intelligent Baby. On Monday I rose at six meaning to go to Hallsteads to Breakfast—but it rained torrents; I did not get off till 12 and then in pretty heavy rain. I found Mr and Mrs John4 at Hallsteads, and as my pg 105visit [would]1 otherwise have been so very short I stopped the night; and Mr and Mrs John Mar[shall] brought [me] hither in the Carriage yesterday. Every body was well at Hallsteads. Here I found only Lord and Lady L., Lady Frederic,2 Miss Thompson3 and Mr O'Callan,4 an old acquaintance Brother of Lord Lismore, all [?except] Lord Lonsdale looking remarkably [        ]5

… and imprudently as it proved one day exposed herself too much and too long to the heat in working with her Rake to clear the terrace. The weather has been very bad and cold and this morning's Letter tells me that her cough continues—her throat too was much relaxed; but I hope, so does her Mother, that change of air and improvement of weather will take the cough away and brace the throat. Mary is only waiting for a summons from John to Moresby. Dora will follow and I expect to meet her at Keswick, and will proceed with her to Moresby. Chris. W.6 is now at the Isle of Man. I am quite uncertain about Ireland even as to my self. I dread the risks as to health, the fatigue, and the expenses of taking Dora and the long sea sickness. So that Idea I think must be given up, though very reluctantly on my part. I have had an urgent invitation from Professor Hamilton of the Observatory Dublin, including one for Dora—but still I am afraid she is so delicate, and we are so poor. Wm's expenses are heavy, and our money is [?turning] much of it to no account—and Reynolds7 has tricked me out of the 200 guineas which would have been a great help.

Mr Marshall has talked of going with me by Holyhead—but this seems very uncertain—so that all that is fixed is the Moresby trip.

  • 1
  • Sylph was it? or a Bird more bright
  •   Than those of fabulous stock?
  • A second darted by—and lo!
  •   Another of the flock,
  • Through sunshine flitting from the bough,
  •   To nestle in the rock.
  • Soon was the pride of Fancy tam'd,
  •   Conjecture set at ease,
  • pg 106The brilliant Strangers hailed with joy
  •   Among the budding trees,
  • Prov'd last year's leaves, push'd from the spray
  •   To frolic on the breeze.
  • 2
  • Maternal Flora! shew they face
  •   And let that hand be seen,
  • Here sprinkling softly full grown flowers,
  •   That, as they touch the green,
  • Take root, so seems it, and look up
  •   In honor of their Queen.
  • Yet, sooth, those little starry specks
  •   That not in vain expir'd
  • To be confounded with live growths
  •   Most dainty, most admired,
  • Were only blossoms dropp'd from twigs
  •   Of their own offspring tir'd.
  • 3d
  • Thus gentle Nature plays her part
  •   With ever-varying wiles,
  • And transient feignings with plain truth
  •   So well she reconciles,
  • That those fond Idlers most are pleas'd
  •   Whom oftenest she beguiles.
  • Not such the World's illusive Shows,
  •   Her wingless flutterings,
  • Her blossoms which though shed outbrave
  •   The Floweret as it springs,
  • For the undeceived, smile as they may,
  •   Are melancholy things.

If we live to another year, with health, you and I will make the Tour of North Wales. It rejoices me to learn you are so well and strong, but we none of us can bear this Idea of [?exertion] or fatigue for you, till you have had [?]1of a year.—If I go to Ireland from Whitehaven it will certainly not be later than friday after next. If I go with Mr Marshall not later than the first of next month. So that you would be at Rydal, so that I may see you before pg 107my departure if it takes place at the beginning of Septr.—I have had a melancholy time with my eyes. They are at present so well as to allow me to read and write; but I have apprehensions that as I grow older they will fail me terribly, so little disorders them, fatigue, change of weather …

[cetera desunt]

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2 The poem which follows below was later entitled Rural Illusions and published in revised form in 1835. See PW ii. 168, 496. It was assigned to the year 1832 by de Selincourt on the strength of the I.F. note, but it is now clear that the original version of the poem was composed three years earlier.
Editor’s Note
3 John Marshall's eldest son William (1796–1872), of Patterdale Hall, was M.P. for Petersfield (1826–30), Beverley (1831–2), Carlisle (1835–47), and East Cumberland (1847–68). In 1828 he married Georgiana Hibbert (1801–66), of Munden, Herts. He had purchased the Patterdale estate from Mounsey, 'King of Patterdale', a few years before this (see pt. i, L. 208).
Editor’s Note
4 For John Marshall jnr. and his wife, see pt. i, L. 70.
Editor’s Note
1 Hole in MS.
Editor’s Note
2 Lady Frederick Bentinck (see pt. i, L. 43).
Editor’s Note
3 See pt. i, L. 372.
Editor’s Note
4 i.e. George O'Callaghan (see pt. i, L. 115).
Editor’s Note
5 MS. cut away. The surviving text resumes with news of Dora W.
Editor’s Note
6 C. W. jnr.
Editor’s Note
7 F. Mansel Reynolds, editor of The Keepsake.
Editor’s Note
1 MS. illegible.
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