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William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 2: The Middle Years: Part I: 1806–1811 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • Address: To the Revd Francis Wrangham, Hunmanby, near Bridlington, Yorkshire.
  • Stamp: Ashby de la Zouch.
  • MS. Henry Huntington Library.
  • K (—). MY i. 279, p. 71.

  • Coleorton, Near Ashby de la
  • Zouche, Leicestershire, Novr.
  • 7th, 1806.

My dear Wrangham,

Your kind Letter deserved an earlier indeed an immediate answer; but it happened that the very day I received it I caught a violent cold, the worst far I ever had in my life; and which hung upon me for five weeks. I do not mention this as entitling me to your absolute pardon, but it was in fact the reason why I put off writing as I did every other business expecting every day to become better.—I am now with my family at Coleorton near Ashby de la Zouche Leicestershire; occupying a House, for the winter of Sir George Beaumont's; our own Cottage at Grasmere being far too small for our family to winter in though we manage well enough in it, during the summer.—

pg 89Now for the subject of your last; I am afraid what I have to say will not be welcome to you. I have long since come to a fixed resolution to steer clear of personal satire;1 in fact, I never will have anything to do with it as far as concerns the private vices of individuals on any account; with respect to public delinquents or offenders I will not say the same; though I should be slow to meddle even with these. This is a rule which I have laid down to myself, and shall rigidly adhere to; though I do not in all cases blame those who think and act differently.—It will therefore follow that I cannot lend any assistance to your proposed publication. The verses which you have of mine I should wish to be destroyed. I have no copy of them myself, at least none that I can find. I would most willingly give them up to you, fame profit, and everything, if I thought either true fame or profit could arise out of them: I should even with great pleasure leave you to be the judge in the case if it were unknown to everybody that I had ever had a concern in a thing of this kind; but I know several persons are acquainted with the fact and it would be buzzed about; and my name would be mentioned in connection with the work, which I would on no account should be.—Your imitations seem well done; but as I have not the intermediate passages, I could not possibly judge of the effect of the whole.—

I have never seen those works of yours which you mention,2 being entirely out of the way of new books; I was indeed in London last Spring, but was so much engaged that I did not read five minutes all the time I was there.—

I think of publishing a Vol: of small pieces in Verse3 this winter. How shall I get a Copy conveyed to you?——

I should be very happy to see you Mrs. Wrangham and your family; but you are sadly out of the way; and whatever wings Poets may boast of they are useless in cases of this kind. Here the richest man is the best flyer; and I am neither rich, nor ever likely to be.—

My children are as follows—1st a Son three years old; 2nd a Daughter 2; 3dly a Son under 5 months; all famous for being exceedingly ill managed, i.e. as to morals and manners.—When I pg 90am upon this subject may I ask a favour of you which I have long thought of: it is this. Have you any friends who draw, and may happen to be at Sir George Cayley's or Mr. Langley's;1 and could you procure for me by their means two drawings of Brompton Church it is the place where I was married: one I should like to have at a small distance where the church has the most picturesque effect in connection with the landscape, and the other the best looking portrait of the building itself.—My Wife and Miss Hutchinson who is here beg their best respects to you and will thank you to take the trouble of remembering them to Sir Georgeand Lady Cayley.——

My wife and sister also beg to be remembered to Mrs. Wrangham. Do write soon, and believe me dear Wrangham ever affectionately yours

Wm Wordsworth

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 See EY, L. 54, p. 156, n. A scholar and bibliophile, one of Wordsworth's earliest friends, he passed most of his life as Rector of Hunmanby, becoming Archdeacon of Cleveland and then of East Yorkshire. He was active in the cause of education, about which he and Wordsworth corresponded. (See L. 116 and L. 126). His first wife d. 1800; his second, here mentioned, was Dorothy Cayley, dr. of the Revd. Digby Cayley of Brompton, Yorkshire, Rector of Thormanby. The wedding took place in Brompton Church in 1801, a year before Wordsworth's in the same church, although Wordsworth does not seem to have known this. (See end of letter.)
Editor’s Note
1 For the satires referred to in this letter see EY, L. 54, L. 59, L. 63, where portions of them are included in letters from W. to Wrangham in Nov. 1795 and Feb. 1797. They were based upon the eighth satire of Juvenal.
Editor’s Note
2 Wrangham had published in 1805 some poems, A Volunteer Song and other Pieces, and two pamphlets, On the Restoration of Learning in the East, and A Dissertation on the best Means of Civilizing the Subjects of the British Empire in India.
Editor’s Note
3 i.e. Poems in Two Volumes, published 1807.
Editor’s Note
1 Sir George Cayley (d. 1857) of Brompton, Yorkshire. The Langleys were the owners of Gallow Hill, the farm at Brompton where M. W. lived with her brother Tom Hutchinson from 1800 to 1804 and from which she was married to Wordsworth on 4 Oct. 1802. Mrs. Langley in 1801 gave M. W. a complete set of Bell's Poets which M. W. gave to Dora W. on her wedding-day, 11 May 1841. It was sold at Sotheby's in 1961.
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