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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 Sir George Beaumont Bart., Grosvenor Square, London—.
  • Endorsed: Novem. 10th—1806.
  • Postmark: Nov 19 1806.
  • Stamp: Ashby de la Zouch.
  • MS. Pierpont Morgan Library.
  • MY i. 281, p. 75.

Coleorton November 10th 1806

My dear Sir George,

I was moved even to weakness by your Letter;2 it is indeed a great happiness to me to be beloved by you, and to think upon what foundation that love rests.—We were as sorry to part with you as you could be to part with us; perhaps even more so, as I believe is almost always the case with those who are left behind. We did not see the rising Sun which you describe so feelingly; but the setting was as glorious to us as to you. We looked at it with pg 93great delight from your fireside; but were foolish enough, at least I was, to believe that we should have such every night; that it was a gift of our new situation, and so the colours and motions which touched you so much were thrown away upon me; at least it seems so now. You know that at Grasmere the high mountains conceal from us in a great measure the splendour of a western sky at sunset; we have often regretted this; and we congratulated ourselves that evening on the opportunity which our present comparatively flat situation would give us of enjoying a sight from which we had long been excluded. We have had one or two fine evenings since but nothing like that first; which was I think the most magnificent I ever beheld. The whole day had been uncommonly fine.—We have not yet rambled much about; once I have been at the fir-wood with Miss Hutchinson, once at the pool with Mrs. W., and once had a long walk with my Sister, about the House and in the Kitchen Garden. Much engaged as the Females have been, some of the party would have been at Grace-dieu before this time, but upon enquiry we found that an Ass was wanting which Mr Bailey is to procure, I believe today or tomorrow. Your new Building and its immediate neighbourhood improve upon me much; I am particularly pleased with the spot, a discovery since your departure! which Lady Beaumont has chosen, I conjecture, for a winter garden. It will be a delightful place. By the bye, there is a pleasing paper in the Spectator (in the 7th Vol., No 477) upon this subject, the whole is well worth reading, particularly that part which relates to the Winter Garden. He mentions Hollies and Horn-beam as Plants which his Place is full of. The Horn-beam I do not know but the Holly I looked for in Lady B's ground and could not find: for its own beauty and for the sake of the Hills and crags of the north, let it be scattered here in profusion. It is of slow Growth, no doubt, but not so slow as generally supposed; and then it does grow, and somebody, we hope, will enjoy it.—Among the Barbarisers of our beautiful Lake-region, of those who bring and those who take away, there are few whom I have execrated more than an extirpator of this beautiful shrub, or rather tree the Holly; this Worthy thank heaven! is not a Native, but he comes from far; and his business is to make bird-lime, and so down go these fair Creatures of Nature wherever he can find them. (You know probably that bird-lime is made of the bark of the Holly.) I would also plant Yew, which is of still slower growth.—One thought struck me, too, relating to the grounds which I will mention. I should not be for planting many forest trees about the House, by the side of those which are already pg 94at their full growth; when I planted at all, there, I should rather choose thickets of underwood, hazels, wild roses, honeysuckle, hollies, thorns, trailing plants, such as Traveller's joy etc. My reason, in addition to the beauty of these is that they would never be compared with the grown up trees; whereas young trees of the same kind will; and must appear insignificant. Observe my remark only applies to placing these young trees by the side of the others; where there is an open space of any size it does not hold.——

Miss Hutchinson and I were at Church yesterday; we were pleased with the singing; and I have often heard a far worse Parson, I mean as to reading. His sermon was, to be sure, as Village sermons often are, very injudicious; a most knowing discourse about the Gnostics, and other hard names of those who were 'hadversaries to Christianity and Henemies of the Gospel.' How strangely injudicious this is! and yet nothing so frequent. I remember hearing Coleridge say that he was once at Keswick Church, and Mr Denton, you know him, was very entertaining in guarding his Hearers against the inordinate vice of ambition, what a shocking thing it was to be a Courtier, and sacrifice a man's hopes in heaven for wordly state and power. I don't know that I ever heard in a Country pulpit a sermon that had any especial bearing on the condition of the majority of the Audience. I was sorry to see at Coleorton few middle aged men, or even Women; the congregation consisted almost entirely of old persons particularly Old Men, and Boys and Girls.—The Girls were not well dressed; their clothes were indeed clean, but not tidy; they were in this respect a striking contrast to our Congregation at Grasmere.—I think I saw the old man (not he with the Spectacles) whose face, especially the eyes Mr Davie has drawn so well. Lady Beaumont will remember that I objected to the Shoulders in the drawing as being those of a young Man. This is the case in nature, in this instance I mean; for I never saw before such shoulders and un-withered arms with so aged a face as in the person I allude to.

———I have talked much Chit-chat, I have chosen to do this rather than give way to my feelings which were powerfully called out by your affecting and beautiful Letter. I will say this, and this only, that I esteem your friendship one of the best gifts of my life; I and my family owe much to you and Lady Beaumont, I need not say that I do not mean any addition to our comforts or happiness, which, with respect to external things, you have been enabled to make; but I speak of soul indebted to soul—I entirely participate your feelings upon your Birthday: it is a trick of Kings and people pg 95in power to make Birthdays matter of rejoicing. Children, too, with their Holiday and plum-pudding rejoice; but to them in their inner hearts it is a day

  •            That tells of time misspent, of comfort lost,
  •            Of fair occasions gone for ever by.

I long to see Wilkie's Picture;1 from Lady Beaumont's account it seems to have surpassed your utmost expectations. I am glad of this, both because the Picture is yours, and as it is an additional promise of what he is to do hereafter. No doubt you will read him my Orpheus of Oxford Street,2 which I think he will like. In a day or two I mean to send a sheet of my intended Volume to the Press; it would give me pleasure to desire the Printer to send you the sheets as they are struck off if you could have them free of expense. There is no forming a true estimate of a Vol of small Poems by reading them all together; one stands in the way of the other. They must either be read a few at once, or the Book must remain some time by one before a judgement can be made of the quantity of thought and feeling and imagery it contains, and what, and what variety of moods and mind it can either impart or is suited to—My Sister is writing to Lady Beaumont and will tell her how comfortable we are here, and every thing relating thereto.—Alas we have had no tidings of Coleridge, a certain proof that he continues to be very unhappy. Farewell, my dear Friend most faithfully and affectionately yours

Wm Wordsworth  

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 i.e. 'The Blind Fiddler', painted for Sir G. Beaumont.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. Power of Music (Oxf. W., p. 188), written after W.'s visit to London in Mar.-Apr. 1806. It also concerns a blind fiddler.
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