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William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 7: The Later Years: Part IV: 1840–1853 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • MS. Baker Library, Dartmouth College.
  • Judson Stanley Lyon, 'Wordsworth and Ticknor', PMLA lxvi (1951), 432–40.

[Dec. 1842]

My dear Mr Ticknor,

Mrs Wordsworth's Letter to Mrs Ticknor I cannot suffer to depart without a word or two from my own pen addressed to yourself. Be assured it gives me great pleasure to receive such an account as Mrs T. gives of your health, and happiness in being restored to your own country, and settled in it after so long an pg 396absence and such wandering.—1 How much will you all have to think of to talk of, and to describe and relate to others. It is this ghost or surviving Spirit of travelling which is often preferable to the substance. One enjoys objects while they are present but they are never truly endeared till they have been lodged some time in the memory. Intervening space must also have something of the same effect and partly in proportion to its length, as, notwithstanding the facilities given by steam you must have felt.

Mrs Ticknor enquires particularly after Mr Southey. The state in which he is, I grieve to say affords no ground for hope of improvements. His disease is thought by his Physicians to be a softening of the brain, from which the mind has suffered even still more than the Body. It has been slow; and though almost imperceptible in its progress, it has been advancing since its first appearance, evidenced by confusion in his head, and failing recollection of things, places, and persons. You may be sure his condition is a great trouble to all his Friends, (not to speak of his family) and to this Household in particular, Mr. S's second Daughter is married to Mr. Hill a clergyman our officiating Minister at present. We see much of her as they live at the foot of our Hill. His youngest Daughter2 is at Keswick, but from circumstance too delicate to enter into,—and too complex to explain, there is alas! no harmony between her and her Stepmother.

I have dwelt more upon this Subject than I intended when I first touched upon it, but I could not turn my thoughts to any thing more agreeable, while writing to one who I know must respect highly and steadily this excellent man in whose life and situation so melancholy a change has, under the dispensations of Providence, taken place.—

As we have not infrequent opportunities of seeing American Travellers we have heard of you and your's, to our great satisfaction. Wishing that the same most acceptable answers may continue to be made to our inquiries, I remain with kindest remembrances to Mrs Ticknor, and your Daughter,3 faithfully yours,

Wm Wordsworth

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Editor’s Note
1 W. W. had last seen the Ticknors in May 1838, just before their return to America (see pt. iii, L. 1243).
Editor’s Note
3 Anna Eliot Ticknor, who helped compile her father's Life, Letters, and Journals.
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