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William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Chester L. Shaver (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 1: The Early Years: 1787–1805 (Second Revised Edition)

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pg 322157. W. W. to THOMAS POOLE

  • Address: Mr Thomas Poole | Nether Stowey | Bridgwater | Somerset
  • Stamp: Kendal.
  • Endorsed: W Wordsworth | 9th April 1801.
  • MS. Brit. Mus. Sandford, ii. 54. EL, 266.

  • Grasmere, near Ambleside Westmoreland
  • April 9th—[l80l]

My dear Poole

I am afraid that you will not think the subject of this Letter of sufficient consequence to justify my putting you to the expence of Postage in these hard times. Should you feel disposed to blame me I have an excuse to make, beyond what I feel does exist in any thing which gives me an opportunity of assuring you how highly I esteem your character, and what affectionate recollections I carry about with me of you and your good mother.

In the last Poem of my 2nd Volu.1 I have attempted to give a picture of a man, of strong mind and lively sensibility, agitated by two of the most powerful affections of the human heart; the parental affection, and the love of property, landed property, including the feelings of inheritance, home, and personal and family independence. This Poem has, I know, drawn tears from the eyes of more than one, persons well acquainted with the manners of the 'Statesmen, as they are called, of this country; and, moreover, persons who never wept, in reading verse, before. This is a favourable augury for me. But nevertheless I am anxious to know the effect of this Poem upon you, on many accounts; because you are yourself the inheritor of an estate which has long been in possession of your family; and, above all, because you are so well acquainted, nay, so familiarly conversant with the language, manners, and feelings of the middle order of people who dwell in the country. Though from the comparative infrequency of small landed properties in your neighbourhood, your situation has not been altogether so favourable as mine, yet your daily and hourly intercourse with these people must have far more than counterbalanced any disadvantage of this kind; so that, all things considered, perhaps there is not in England a more competent judge than you must be, of the skill or knowledge with which my pictures are drawn. I had a still further wish that this poem should please you, because in writing it I had your character often before my eyes, and sometimes thought I was delineating such a man as you yourself would have been under the same circumstances.

pg 323Do not suspect me of a wish to bribe you into an admiration of the poem in question, by this time no doubt you must have read it, and it must have had a fair trial upon you.

I am now come to the circumstance which was the determining cause of my writing to you. The 2nd Vol: is throughout miserably printed and after line, page 210,

  • "Receiving from his father hire of praise,"

By a shameful negligence of the printer there is an omission of 15 lines absolutely necessary to the connection of the poem. If in the copy sent to you this omission has not been supplied you may be furnished with half a sheet which has been reprinted, if you have any acquaintance who will call at Longmans for it, and send it down to you. In the meanwhile my Sister will transcribe for you the omitted passage. I should be vexed if your copy is an imperfect one, as it must have then been impossible for you to give the poem a fair trial. Rem[em]ber me affectionately to your Mother, and also to Ward and believe me dear Poole yours sincerely,

W. Wordsworth  

[D. W. writes]

See page 210              

  •              Receiving from his Father hire of praise
  •              Though nought was left undone which staff or voice,
  •              Or looks, or threatening gestures could perform.
  •                 But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand
  •              Against the mountain blasts, and to the heights,
  •              Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways,
  •              He with his Father daily went, and they
  •              Were as companions, why should I relate
  •              That objects which the Shepherd lov'd before
  •              Were dearer now? that from the Boy there came
  •              Feelings and emanation [sic], things which were
  •              Light to the sun and music to the wind;
  •              And that the old Man's heart seem'd born again.
  •                 Thus in his Fathers sight the Boy grew up:
  •              And now when he had reach'd his eighteenth year,
  •              He was his comfort and his daily hope.

Page 211. Begin the second Part of the Poem thus. With a large letter.

  •              While in the fashion which I have describ'd
  •              This simple Household thus were living on
  •              From day to day, to Michael's ear &c &c

pg 324My Brother has written the following lines to be inserted Page 206 after the 9th line.

  •              "Murmur as with the sound of summer flies
  •              Though in these occupations they would pass
  •              Whole hours with but small interchange of speech,
  •              Yet there were times in which they did not want
  •              Discourse both wise and pleasant, shrewd remarks
  •              Of daily prudence, cloth'd in images
  •              Lively and beautiful, in rural forms
  •              That made their conversation fresh and fair
  •              As is a landscape:—And the Shepherd oft
  •              Would draw out of his heart the obscurities,
  •              And admirations, that were there, of God
  •              And of his works, or, yielding to the bent
  •              Of his peculiar humour, would let loose
  •              His tongue, and give it the mind's freedom, then
  •              Discoursing on remote imaginations, strong
  •              Conceits, devices, day-dreams, thoughts and schemes,
  •              The fancies of a solitary Man!
  •              ———Not with a waste of words, but for the sake
  •              Of pleasure which I know that I shall give
  •              To many living now, have I described
  •              Old Michael's manners and discourse, and thus
  •              Minutely spoken of that aged Lamp,
  •              Round which the Shepherd and his household sate
  •              ———The light was famous in its neighbourhood
  •              And was a public symbol ["] &c &c

[W. W. writes]

Tell whether you think the insertion of these lines an improvement.

We shall be highly delighted to see you in this country. I hope you will be able to stay some time with us. Coleridge was over at Grasmere a few days ago: he was both in better health and in better spirits than I have seen him for some time. He is a great man, and if God grant him life will do great things. My sister desires to be affectionately rememberd to you and your Mother, not forgetting Wards.

W. W.

Christabel is to be printed at the Bulmerian Press, with Vignettes &c &c I long to have the book in my hand it will be such a Beauty.1 Farewell.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Michael.
Editor’s Note
1 William Bulmer (1757–9 Sept. 1830), founder of the Shakespeare Press in Cleveland Row, London, was famous for his illustrated folio editions of Milton (3 vols., 1793–7) and Shakespeare (9 vols., 1791–1805).
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