De Quincey and Wordsworth — I

  • D. D. Devlin


The magnet drew De Quincey early, and although he probably never saw Wordsworth again after 1829, it never lost its power. De Quincey boasts that he was only fourteen years old when he read his first Wordsworth poem. ‘In 1799 I had become acquainted with “We Are Seven”’, but, as he told Wordsworth in a letter some years later (1804), he had not come across it in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads but in a manuscript copy of the poem which was being circulated in Bath where he was on a holiday visit to his mother. Some time passed before he met Wordsworth’s poetry again. As he tells Wordsworth in the same letter in a fuzz of words which makes very little clear, he ‘came under the dominion of my passions’ (unspecified); ‘fell under the influence of the heroes of German Drama’ (unspecified); felt himself ‘unfettered by any ties of common restraint’ (unspecified), and generally indulged in unspecified ‘feverish and turbulent dreams of meditation’. Too much specification (even if it had been possible) might have alienated Wordsworth.


Fairy Tale Reading Public Household Affection Real Language Manuscript Copy 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    John E. Jordan, De Quincey to Wordsworth (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1962) pp. 36–7.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Ernest de Selincourt (ed.), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early Years 1787–1805, 2nd edn., revised C. L. Shaver (Oxford, 1967) p. 400.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader (second series), (London, 1932) pp. 137–8.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    A. H. Japp (ed.), The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey (London, 1893) pp. 209–10.Google Scholar
  5. 20.
    John E. Jordan, ‘De Quincey on Wordsworth’s Theory of Diction’, Publications of the Modern Languages Association of America (1953) vol. LXVIII, pp. 764–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© D. D. Devlin 1983

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  • D. D. Devlin

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