Heroism Abroad and Grief at Home (1808–14)

  • F. B. Pinion
Part of the Macmillan Literary Companions book series (LICOM)


Expecting Coleridge and his two boys to share his home, Wordsworth had agreed to rent Allan Bank, the ‘temple of abomination’ which he had regarded as an offence to Grasmere Vale. In February, disturbed by news of Coleridge’s continued illness, he travelled to London, taking the manuscript of The White Doe for publication, and intending to check the proofs while he was there. Dorothy, who wished to purchase furniture for their new home, was aghast to hear that he had decided to defer publication and leave the poem with Coleridge. She had been actively engaged in finding homes and organizing a welfare fund for the orphaned brothers and sisters of her young domestic help, Sally Green. Blinded by a heavy snowstorm, their parents had fallen over a steep edge on their way late at night over the mountain range between Langdale and their home in Easedale. Dorothy wrote an account of their tragedy and of the plight of their six children, left for three days in the care of the eldest, who was only eleven years old; the story made a deep impression on De Quincey, who recorded it more graphically than accurately in his Lake District Reminiscences.


Scarlet Fever Paradise Lost Steep Edge Deep Impression Welfare Fund 
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  1. 2.
    Berta Laurence, Coleridge and Wordsworth in Somerset, Newton Abbot, 1970, p. 169;Google Scholar
  2. And Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth, The Early Years, Oxford, 1957, p. 429.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sara Hutchinson had no doubt about this; she substituted ‘Mary’ for ‘Emma’ in her copy (William Heath, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Oxford, 1970, p. 113).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    For this version see E. L. Griggs (ed.), Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol. II, Oxford, 1956, no. 438; or Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association, Oxford, 1937, pp. 7–25.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    The case for this, and for considering the preamble as an account of that journey, is argued by J. A. Finch in Jonathan Wordsworth (ed.), Bicentenary Wordsworth Studies, Ithaca and London, 1970, pp. 1–13.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Wordsworth quotes at length from his poem ‘All Saints’ Church, Derby’ (1805) in the first of his essays on epitaphs.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    See Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth, The Later Years, Oxford, 1965, p. 182n.Google Scholar

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© F. B. Pinion 1984

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  • F. B. Pinion

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