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William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt and Alan G. Hill (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 4: The Later Years: Part I: 1821–1828 (Second Revised Edition)

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214. W. W. to [? THOMAS ROBINSON]1

  • MS. untraced.
  • K (—). LY i. 239.

  • Rydal Mount,
  • 17th January, 1826.

My dear Sir,

I reply to your letter instantly, because I am able to decide upon general grounds, long ago established in my mind. But first pg 424let me thank you for addressing yourself directly to me. This procedure adds to the esteem which I have always entertained for you. My answer must be unfavourable to your wishes, as it would be to those of any one similarly circumstanced. The opinion, or rather judgment, of my daughter must have been little influenced by what she has been in the habit of hearing from me since her childhood, if she could see the matter in a different light. I therefore beg that the same reserve and delicacy which have done you so much honor may be preserved; that she may not be called to think upon the subject, and I cannot but express the hope that you will let it pass away from your mind.

Thus far I have been altogether serious, as the case required. I cannot conclude without a word or two in a lighter tone. If you have thoughts of marrying, do look out for some lady with a sufficient fortune for both of you. What I say to you now, I would recommend to every naval officer and clergyman, who is without prospect of professional advancement. Ladies of some fortune are as easily won as those without, and for the most part as deserving. Check the first liking to those who have nothing.

Your letter will not be mentioned. I have a wretched pen and cannot procure a better, or I should be tempted to add a few words upon Rydal topics; but I must content myself with adding my sincere and ardent wishes for your health and happiness. I remain,

  • Very faithfully your friend and cousin,     
  • Wm Wordsworth   

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Editor’s Note
1 The late Gordon Wordsworth suggested that this letter was addressed to William Crackanthorpe of Newbiggin Hall. But as de Selincourt notes, the implication that the addressee had not a sufficient fortune makes this improbable, even though Crackanthorpe was certainly a suitor for Dora W.'s hand about this time. The 'cousin' is more likely to be one of the sons of Mrs. Mary Robinson, the Admiral's widow: most probably Thomas (see L. 23 above), a lieutenant in the navy. Some support for this identification is afforded by an unpublished letter of 3 Nov. 1825 from S. H. to John Monkhouse, which hints at a possible romance: ' … Tom Robinson finds Rydal so attractive that he is a poor support to his Mother. This is news for Mary—but she need not fear any taxation, on the part of the Lady—Dora I mean—and the youth also is too wise. He sees enough of love in a Cottage at the foot of the hill.' (MS. Jonathan Wordsworth.)
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