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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pg 4491712. W. W. to ALEXANDER DYCE

  • Address: The Revd Alex: Dyce, Gray's Inn, London.
  • Postmark: 8 June 1843.
  • Stamp: Ambleside.
  • MS. Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • LY iii. 1169.

Rydal Mount June 6th '43

Dear Mr Dyce,

A Friend of mine1 wants to obtain, if possible, more copious information about the Institution of the Office of Poet Laureate in this Country, and the earliest Holders of the Office, than is to be got at in Selden,2 Wood,3 and those late writers who have echoed T. Warton's Notices from them.4 He would also be obliged to any one who would would point out to him the sources of any thing curious or interesting relative to foreign Laureats; and not to be found in the popular accounts of Petrarch, Tasso, and Metastasio5 (was Skelton a Court Laureate, for Bernard6 was Laureat to Henry 7 and 8). Knowing that you are not a man of leisure, I would by no means trouble you for more than short hints on the subject of these Queries.

A reply at your early convenience will much oblige dear Sir

  • faithfully yours      
  • Wm Wordsworth

I am curious about Skelton, and shall be truly glad to receive your Book.7 Mr Moxon can forward anything to me as arranged pg 450between us either in the Kendal Bookseller's weekly parcel, or by a private Friend as may happen. Pray mention how you are in health, and how your worldly affairs are turning out.1 I heard of those unpleasantnesses with great concern.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 E. Q., who was writing an essay on The Laureates of England. See Mem. ii. 403.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. in Titles of Honour by John Selden (1584–1654), the jurist.
Editor’s Note
3 Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses.
Editor’s Note
4 In his History of English Poetry, 3 vols., 1774–81, ii. 130 ff. Thomas Warton the younger was Poet Laureate, 1785–90.
Editor’s Note
5 Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782), Italian poet and dramatist: imperial court poet in Vienna from 1730.
Editor’s Note
6 Bernard Andreas Tholosatis (c. 1456–;c. 1530), a blind Augustinian friar from Oxford, who joined the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII and celebrated their achievements in numerous Latin poems. On 21 Nov. 1486 he was granted an annuity of ten marks as Poet Laureate, and this is the first official reference to the office. He was later appointed Historiographer Royal as well. See E. K. Broadus, The Laureateship, Oxford, 1921. W. W. probably owed his knowledge of Bernard to Warton's History (ii. 132–3).
Editor’s Note
7 Dyce's edition of Skelton appeared this year.
Editor’s Note
1 In an undated letter of early summer 1842, Dyce had acknowledged W. W.'s gift of the Poems, Chiefly of Early and Late Years, expressing his 'great delight' with the whole volume, and singling out particularly The Borderers, To the Clouds, and the Epistle to Sir G. Beaumont for praise. He also referred to his own affairs, the quarrel that had broken out in his family, and the suit in chancery he was threatened with. He had lost the greater part of his income as a shareholder in a Scottish bank. (Dyce MSS., Victoria and Albert Museum). See also Anthony Burton, 'The Private Life of Alexander Dyce', Blackwood's Magazine, cccxxvi (Nov. 1979), 398–409.
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