William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 6: The Later Years: Part III: 1835–1839 (Second Revised Edition)

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pg 6641296. W. W. to H. C. R.

  • Address: H. C. Robinson Esqre, 2 Plowdens Buildgs, Temple.
  • Postmark: 21 Feb. 1839.
  • Stamp: Charles St.
  • Endorsed: 19 Feb: 1839. Wordsworth health Copyright bill.
  • MS. Dr. Williams's Library.
  • Morley, i. 378.

[In M. W.'s hand]

19 Feb. [1839]

My dear Friend,

After having tired both myself and my Wife by dictating this long letter to Miss M.,1 which you will fill up—having read it first—(if you think worth while, in order to prevent repetition—) we feel unable to write any thing at present to yourself, worthy your perusal. You must however accept our best thanks for your very interesting letter.—Finding that I did not throw off the muscular pain by the violent attack of Lumbago which I had ere you left us—I submitted to a course of Invalidism, under the management of Mr Fell2—that is, I kept my room a few days—my bed one, in order to encourage perspiration. We are now staying a few days at Miss Fenwick's for the sake of her society and change of air—and above all because it may not be prudent for me to walk to see her so often as I could wish.—We have had no card-playing since your departure and we hope the Kitchen Party have recovered from their fit of dissipation—John3 and his family, stayed one day with us, on their passage home, last week—they took our Darling along with them—To our great regret the Magic Lantern was packed up—so that they could not get at it, that we might have witnessed the impression it made upon the Child—He well remembered not only the 'Peacock with the fairy tail'—but also your manner of repeating it—and made no bad attempt at an immitation. Mr Quillinan has paid us a visit of a week—lodging at Miss Fenwicks he took us on his way to Ireland, whither business calld him.

I sent up, as you know, a draft of the Petition adding in a letter to the Sergeant that my fear of being lengthy had prevented my inserting two or three clauses—which I mentioned, and as he pg 665rather recommended the incorporating these I did so—He expressed his satisfaction of the whole, when it was returned to him upon parchment—I still regret however the omission of one clause, which did not strike me at the time—viz—

That the amended Bill would take away from venal Publishers the liberty of re-publishing such things as the Author might have discarded—whereas, as the law now is, when an Author who has begun early and lived to a good age dies—they can reprint those Pieces and pass off their injurious editions as the only complete collection of the Writers Works—The fear of this, absolutely prevented Southey from throwing overboard in his last Ed: several minor pieces that were written merely for the newspapers when he wanted money.

My Sister mourns and even weeps over the loss of her little Nephew1—she is well in health—but we cannot see Doras appetite make any improvement which hurts us much. Miss F. is, for her, well—She unites with us in every good wish—

  • Ever affly your faithful Friend—     
  • [signed] Wm Wordsworth  

Pray stir about getting friends to attend at the House early on the 27th as Talfourds bill stands first upon the list for that day. Do you take in the New York Review at the Athenaeum? If so, and you think it worth while you may see a long and encomiastic notice of my volumes in the No: for Jany last2Do, in a New York Mag: called, I think, Biblical Repository,3 but I have not seen it—tho' heard of it from the Editor of that work. Having had so many letters to write since you went—we have alas! read little—Mr Taylor4 and pg 666Carlisle1 being both untouched. I ought to have said that I am now convalescent. Nothing remains but a slight muscular pain at one side of the back—Dora has not forgotten the Sonnets2 she promised to transcribe for you.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Probably Miss Frances Mackenzie (see L. 1137 above).
Editor’s Note
2 The Ambleside surgeon.
Editor’s Note
3 John W. was now returning with his family to Brigham.
Editor’s Note
1 i.e. John W.'s son William, who had been staying at Rydal Mount.
Editor’s Note
3 The American Biblical Repository was published at Andover, Massachusetts. From 1835 until 1837 it was edited by Bela Bates Edwards (1802–52), Professor of Hebrew at Andover Theological Seminary from 1837, and a leading advocate of Classical studies in the U.S.A., who visited W. W. in 1846 (RMVB). It was edited from 183 8 by Absalom Peters (1793–1869), one of the founders of the Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Editor’s Note
4 Isaac Taylor (1787–1865), author of The Natural History of Enthusiasm (1830), Fanaticism (1833), and Spiritual Despotism (1835), wrote much about the problems presented by the corruptions of the Christian Church, particularly in Ancient Christianity and the Oxford Tracts, 2 vols., 1839–40. The work referred to here is The Physical Theory of Another Life (1836), which the Misses Ricketts, friends of the author, had presented to W. W. The poet had been impressed by the extracts H. C. R. had read to him during his recent visit: 'Wordsworth was not tolerant of novelities, but he praised the imaginative power of Taylor's picture of heaven, remarking only that it ought to be in verse.' (HCR ii. 564.)
Editor’s Note
1 Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), Scottish essayist and historian, had achieved celebrity with his French Revolution (1837), which had become a firm favourite with I. F. and H. C. R., but not with W. W. 'It is not only his style he condemns, but his inhumanity. He says there is a want of due sympathy with mankind. Scorn and irony are the feeling and tone throughout.' (HCR ii. 566.) Carlyle had been settled in London since 1834 and W. W. had met him at Henry Taylor's in 1836 (see L. 1004 above). For Carlyle's recollections of W. W., see his Reminiscences, ed. J. A. Froude, 2 vols., 1881, ii. 330 ff. See also L. 1305 below.
Editor’s Note
2 These contributions to the Memorials of a Tour in Italy, 1837 included The Pine of Monte Mario at Rome and At Florence (PW iii. 212, 225), which were acknowledged by H. C. R. in March (see Morley, i. 382); but W. W. had composed about 12 new sonnets recently (HCR ii. 567), and the additional ones now to be sent probably included the sequence At Rome (PW iii. 213–5), which may well belong to this time. H. C. R. had been reading the first volume of Arnold's History of Rome during his recent visit to Rydal, and the sonnets seem to reflect his discussions of Arnold's and Niebuhr's methods with the poet.
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