WORDSWORTH, WILLIAM (1770-1850)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS CHARMING POEM ['TO A CHILD'], untitled herein, signed and dated ('Wm Wordsworth') ), 4 lines, 1 page, large quarto, thick paper, Rydal Mount, 4 April 1846
Small service is true service while it lasts;
Of Friends however humble scorn not One;
The daisy, by the shadow that it casts;
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the sun.
Wordsworth originally wrote this well-known and characteristic quatrain in the album of his god-daughter Rotha Quillinan in 1834. The present manuscript was recently removed (not by the present or previous owner) from the album in which it was written and which had survived intact until after it was sold at Sotheby's in 2005.
The album from which it was removed was that of Letitia Matilda Rudyerd, née Burroughs (c. 1828-1908), the daughter of Colonel William Burroughs (c. 1789-1853). Born in Allahabad in the East Indies, she married Henry Edward Samuel Rudyerd on 29 October 1846 (some seven months after Wordsworth wrote in her album). They had twelve children, and lived first in Sussex and then in Hampton Wick. A portrait of Letitia Rudyerd was sold at Phillips in 1996.
Four other manuscripts of the poem are known: The Wordsworth Trust has the version in Rotha Quillinan's album; Swarthmore College Library has a version removed from an album; one dated four days after the present manuscript is in the Berg Collection; and one was in Kenneth Rendell's catalogue 55 (Winter 1970-1971), since not traced. The punctuation in this manuscript is different from the printed text as is the use of majuscules.
Wordsworth welcomed a stream of visitors to Rydal Mount with whom he would discuss poetry and then bid them farewell. Burroughs is not a name that occurs in the Rydal Mount visitors' book in April 1846.
PROVENANCE: Letitia Matilda Rudyerd, née Burroughs (c. 1828-1908), the daughter of Colonel William Burroughs (c. 1789-1853); Sotheby's, 15 December 2005, lot 86; James Cummins.
REFERENCE: The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, edited by E. de Selincourt and Helen Darbishire, 5 volumes, 1947, volume iv. p. 178.