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William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth

The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 5: The Later Years: Part II: 1829–1834 (Second Revised Edition)

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  • Address: The Revd F. Merewether, Rectory, Coleorton, Ashby de la Zouch.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Cornell. Hitherto unpublished.

[In M. W.'s hand]

Rydal Mount Octr 29 [1833]

My dear Sir,

It was very kind of you to turn your thoughts to us on the day of the interment of your Mother, whose death we had previously noticed with much regret in the Newspaper; the thanks due for your gratifying letter would have been deferred till the receipt of the Article upon Coleorton; but on account of a paragraph which is going the round of the Newspapers, relating to the State of my sight. This I thought would be almost sure to fall in your way, and that of our Friends at the Hall—and therefore I wish you to know, that the account was not much exaggerated—but thank God the apprehended blindness of the one eye that was so severely affected has passed away, and I am now in as fair a way of perfect recovery as any one has a right to expect, who has been subject to such frequent attacks as I have. My safety for the future, next to God's Goodness, must depend upon extreme care both as to diet and exposure—and above all in not fatiguing my Mind by intellectual labour, when the eyes become at all disordered—the great severity of the last relapse was occasioned, I believe, by want of this precaution. When unable to read or write, one is naturally put upon thinking, and in my case, upon Composition—which always more or less with me disturbs the digestion—and is accordingly injurious, even when it does not overstimulate the brain. Pray pg 653mention with my kindest regards to Sir G. and Lady B. as much of these particulars as you think proper.

We were glad to hear the account you give of your family, and wish much for the Sight of your letter to John—which we shall receive tomorrow (when our Whitehaven Monthly parcel comes round—to the Stamp Off. by which we generally receive despatches).

Coleorton well deserves that an account should be given of it in that excellent Mag:1 and I am glad that it has fallen into your hands to describe a Place with which you have been so long intimately connected. Your fourfold division of the Population is very judicious, and I am persuaded that your notice of Coleorton will prove generally interesting. To me it is perfectly horrifying to read the Notices which I find scattered over the Newspapers and Reviews, of publications in malignant hostility to the Church—there is in particular one by a Quaker named Howitt2 of Nottingham which shocks me above measure, and the more so as proceeding from a Man to whom I consider myself as under particular obligations—inasmuch as it was his house which so hospitably received my Wife when she was unable to proceed, on her last journey from Cambridge3—and there every possible attention was paid to her and my daughter by him and his excellent family for 3 weeks. But this class of enemies is not the most formidable the Church has to contend with—they are the rash and inconsiderate Reformers which she contains in her own bosom. One of the most conspicuous and foolish of whom is Lord Henley.4

As to the Archdeacon Bailey's5 proposal, it would [give]6 me much pleasure to have the Eccles: Sonnets printed in that way, but I do not think they would have any chance of selling much, as a book of devotion in verse to accompany Keble's Xtn Year, or any other work of that kind. All I have to say is, that if any Number of Clergymen or others would engage to indemnify the Publisher my consent would be given to Archdeacon B's proposal. This is mentioned because at their first publication in a separate form, those pg 654Sketches were I believe a loss to me at whose risk they were published. I have lately added 3 other Sonnets1—two upon the Vaudois and one upon the Service the Monks did to humanity, in relaxing and breaking the bonds of feudal Vassalage. If the proposal should take effect, I would strenuously recommend that the passage at the beginning of the [  ]2 Book of the Exn should be premised and perhaps some 2 or 3 other passage[s] from the same Work might be advantageously added, as notes. As I probably shall have occasion to write to you again shortly—you will excuse my taking leave of you abruptly. My Sister who has been wonderfully well, for the last 4 months, I am sorry to say, is at present suffering from a bilious attack—which we fear will throw her back—and at the approach of winter this is peculiarly unfortunate. The rest of us are well and join in love to you and yrs.

  • sincerely yrs              
  • W Wordsworth3  

[M. W. writes]

We hope you may be able to give us a good report of dear Mrs M. after her return from her afflicting sojourn in Essex—God bless her and you all! M. W.

[W. W. continues]

The acct of poor Mr Prickett4 grieved us much but I am inclined to think his inconsiderate expences were an effect of his malady, tho' no doubt they would be an aggravating cause. Pray say to Sir G. and Lady B. that I bear steadily in mind my promise either to go to C. expressly to visit them and you or to take Coleorton going pg 655or returning, on my first visit to London W. W. Would Lady B. be so good as favor us with a letter about the Children of whom we are anxious to hear. I dare not yet write myself to any one.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Merewether's article on Coleorton has not been traced.
Editor’s Note
2 William Howitt published this year A Popular History of Priestcraft, in All Ages and Nations. It had reached its eighth edition by 1846.
Editor’s Note
3 See L. 608 above.
Editor’s Note
4 Robert Henley Eden, 2nd Baron Henley (1789–1841), M.P. for Fowey (1826–30), and Master in Chancery (1826–40). He wrote on ecclesiastical reform, and published in 1834 A Plan for a New Arrangment and Increase in Number of the Dioceses of England and Wales.
Editor’s Note
5 Probably not Benjamin Bailey (see L. 638 above), but the other Archdeacon Bayley (see L. 518above).
Editor’s Note
6MS. torn.
Editor’s Note
1 See PW iii. 363, 367. W. W.'s more favourable estimate of monastic institutions was also reflected in his Stanzas on St. Bees (PW iv. 25). The sonnets were composed several months earlier, in the spring of 1833, as is clear from Dora W.'s letter of 17 May to E. Q.: 'Father has written several 100 lines this spring but only "tiresome small Poems" as Mother calls them who is vexed she cannot get him set down to his long work. I dont believe the "Recluse" will ever be finished. He has written two or three sweet Poems, a few lines in one of them will please you especially, as shewing very happily the poetry of Romanism and making us wish that some of your Rites had been retained by our Church' (WL MSS.). This last remark fits the poem on St. Bees much more than the sonnets, and suggests that it may have been written, in part or completely, two months before W. W. set out on his recent tour, perhaps under the influence of Richard Parkinson's poem on a similar theme (see L. 729 above).
Editor’s Note
2 Blank in MS. W. W. presumably has in mind the passage in praise of the Church of England at the beginning of Book vi of The Excursion.
Editor’s Note
3 Not signed by W. W.
Editor’s Note
4 John W.'s successor as curate of Whitwick (see L. 482 above).
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