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William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt, Alan G. Hill, and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 3: The Middle Years: Part II: 1812–1820 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • Address: The Revd. F. Wrangham, Hunmanby, Bridlington.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Henry Huntington Library.
  • Grosart (—). K (—). MY ii. 620, p. 840.

Rydal Mount, Febry 19th, 1819.

Dear Wrangham,

I received your kind Letter last night, for which you will accept my thanks. I write upon the spur of that mark of your regard—or my aversion to Letter-writing might get the better of me. Rogers read me his Poem3 when I was in Town about 12 months ago; but I have heard nothing of it since. It contained some very pleasing passages, but the title is much too grandiloquent for the performance, and the plan appeared to me faulty. I know little of Blackwood's Magazine, and wish to know less. I have seen in it articles so infamous that I do not chuse to let it enter my doors. The Publisher sent it to me some time ago, and I begged (civilly you will pg 523take for granted) not to be troubled with it any longer. Except now and then, when Southey accommodates me, I see no new Books whatever, so that of course I know nothing of Miss Aikins' Queen Elizabeth.1 I ought to have mentioned that the three Sonnets advertised in Blackwood's Magazine as from my pen were truly so, but they were not of my sending.2

As to the St Bees case you will see that no doubt as well as all others, in the report from the Committ[ee] which will soon be laid before Par[liament]. It will prove that all Mr B's allegations are unfounded.

I am glad to hear you are engaged with Dr. Zouch.3 I find it difficult to speak publicly of good men while alive, especially if they are persons who have power; the world ascribes the eulogy to interested motives, or to an adulatory spirit, which I detest. But of Lord Lonsdale I will say to you that I do not think there exists in England a man of any rank more anxiously desirous to discharge his Duty in that station of life to which it has pleased God to call him. His thought and exertions are constantly directed to that object, and the more he is known the more is he beloved and respected and admired.

I ought to have thanked you before for your versions of Virgil's Eclogues,4 which reached me at last. I have lately compared it line for line with the original, and think it very well done. I was particularly pleased with the skill you have shewn in managing the Contest between the Shepherds in the third Pastoral, where you have included in a succession of couplets the sense of Virgil's paired hexameter. I think I mentioned to you that these Poems of Virgil have always delighted me much; there is frequently in them an elegance and a happiness which no translation can hope to equal. In point of fidelity your translation is very good indeed.

You astonish me with the account of your Books,5 and I should pg 524have been still more astonished if you had told me you had read a third (shall I say a tenth part) of them. My reading powers were never very great, and now they are much diminished, especially by candle light. And as to buying books, I can affirm that on new books I have not spent five shillings for the last 5 years. I include reviews, magazines, Pamphlets, etc., etc. So that there would be an end of Mr. Murray, and Mr. Longman, and Mr. Cadell etc., etc., if nobody had more power or inclination to buy than myself; and as to old Books, my dealings in that way, for want of means, have been very trifling. Nevertheless (small and paltry as my Collection is) I have not read a fifth part of it. I should however like to see your army.

  • Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
  • When Agrican, with all his Northern powers
  • Besieged Albracca as Romances tell.1

Not that I accuse you of romancing. I verily believe that you have all the books you speak of—believe, and like the Devils, tremble! Dear Wrangham, are you and I ever likely to meet in this world again? Yours is a corner of the earth; mine is not so. I never heard of any body going to Bridlington, but all the world comes to the Lakes. Farewell. Excuse this wretched scrawl. It is like all that proceeds from my miserable pen. Be assured I shall be glad to hear of you at any and all times; but literary news, except what I get occasionally from Southey, I have none to send you in return. Ever faithfully yours

Wm. Wordsworth.

As to the Nortons the Ballad is my authority, and I require no more. It is much better than Virgil had for his Aeneid. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned that the articles in B's Magazine2 that disgusted me so, were personal,—referring to myself and friends and acquaintances, especially Coleridge.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 Human Life, A Poem, published in spring, 1819.
Editor’s Note
1 Lucy Aikins, Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth, 2 vols., 1818. In his letter to W. W. of 15 Feb. (WL MSS.), Wrangham pointed out that she had rejected the tradition W. W. followed in The White Doe of Rylstone; or, The Fate of the Nortons that the Nortons, father and sons, had been executed. For the ballad W. W. relied on, see PW iii, p. 538. See also L. 114, pt. i, p. 237.
Editor’s Note
3 Thomas Zouch, D.D. (1737–1815), uncle of Lord Lonsdale, divine and antiquary, and Prebendary of Durham from 1805. He published an edition of Isaac Walton's works, 1795–6. Wrangham's edition of Zouch's works appeared in 2 vols. in 1820.
Editor’s Note
4 Fifty copies printed in 1815: published in Valpy's Family Classical Library, 1830.
Editor’s Note
5 'Does your passion for old Books continue?', Wrangham had inquired. He claimed to have 14,000 vols. in his own library.
Editor’s Note
1 Paradise Regained, iii. ll. 337–9.
Editor’s Note
2 W. W. would be thinking particularly of the 'Observations' on his Letter to a Friend of Burns in Blackwood's Magazine for June, Oct., and Nov. 1817 (i. 261–6; ii. 65–73, 201–4). The Oct. issue (ii. 3–18) had also contained a highly derogatory review of Coleridge's Biographia Literaria. John Wilson had subsequently made some amends in two 'Essays on the Lake School of Poetry' in July and Dec. 1818 (iii. 369–81; iv. 257–63), which showed real sympathy for W. W.'s aims and methods. But more recently still—in the January and March issues for this year (iv. 396–404, 735–44)—there appeared the 'Letters from the Lakes: Translated from the German of Philip Kempferhausen: written in the summer of 1818', which reported personal conversations with Southey and W. W. As a result of this, Blackwood's remained under a cloud throughout the year (see SH 52, p. 152).
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