LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
William Wordsworth to Samuel Rogers, 29 September 1808

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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‘Grasmere: Sept. 29, 1808.

‘My dear Sir,—I am greatly obliged to you for your kind exertions in favour of our Grasmere Orphans, and for your own contribution. It will give you pleasure to hear that there is the best prospect of the children being greatly benefited in every respect by the sum which has been raised, amounting to nearly 500l. They are placed in three different houses in the Vale of Grasmere, and are treated with great tenderness. They will be carefully taught to read and write, and, when they are of a proper age, care will be taken to put them forward in life in the most advisable manner.

‘The bill you sent me—31l. 8s.—I have already paid into the hands of the Secretary.

‘I was glad to hear that our friend Sharp was so much benefited in his health by his late visit to our beautiful country. We passed one pleasant day together, but we were unlucky, upon the whole, in not seeing
much of each other, as a more than usual part of his time was spent about Keswick and Ulswater. I am happy to find that we coincide in opinion about
Crabbe’s verses, for poetry in no sense can they be called. Sharp is also of the same opinion. I remember that I mentioned in my last that there was nothing in the last publication so good as the description of the parish workhouse, apothecary, &c. This is true, and it is no less true that the passage which I commended is of no great merit, because the description, at the best of no high order, is, in the instance of the apothecary, inconsistent—that is, false. It no doubt sometimes happens, but, as far as my experience goes, very rarely, that country practitioners neglect and brutally treat their patients; but what kind of men are they who do so?—not apothecaries like Crabbe’s professional, pragmatical coxcombs, “all pride, generally neat, business, bustle, and conceit”—no, but drunken reprobates, frequenters of boxing-matches, cock-fightings, and horse-races. These are the men who are hard-hearted with their patients, but any man who attaches so much importance to his profession as to have strongly caught, in his dress and manner, the outward formalities of it may easily indeed be much occupied with himself, but he will not behave towards his “victims,” as Mr. Crabbe calls them, in the manner he has chosen to describe. After all, if the picture were true to nature, what claim would it have to be called poetry? At the best, it is the meanest kind of satire, except the merely personal. The sum of all is, that nineteen out of twenty of Crabbe’s pictures are mere matters of fact, with which the Muses have just about as
much to do as they have with a collection of medical reports or of law cases.

‘How comes it that you never favour these mountains with a visit? You ask how I have been employed. You do me too much honour, and I wish I could reply to the question with any satisfaction. I have written since I saw you about 500 lines of my long Poem, which is all I have done. What are you doing? My wife and sister desire to be remembered by you, and believe me, my dear sir,

‘With great truth, yours,
Wm. Wordsworth.

‘We are here all in a rage about the Convention in Portugal. If Sir Hew were to show his face among us, or that other doughty knight, Sir Arthur, the very boys would hiss them out of the Vale.’