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William Wordsworth

Ernest De Selincourt, Alan G. Hill, and Mary Moorman (eds), The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Vol. 3: The Middle Years: Part II: 1812–1820 (Second Revised Edition)

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pg 194346. W. W. to THOMAS DE QUINCEY

  • Address: Thomas Dequincey Esqr, to be left with the Treasurer of the Middle Temple, London, or if not there at the Inner Temple.
  • Postmark: 8 Fe[b] 1815.
  • Stamp: Kendal Penny Post.
  • MS. Miss Maud Craig.
  • K (—).MY ii. 515, p. 629.

[about 5 Feb. 1815]

'When in his character of philosophical Poet, having thought of Morality as of implying in its essence voluntary obedience, and producing the effect of order, he transfers in the transport of imagination, the law of moral to physical natures, and, having contemplated, through the medium of that order, all modes of existence as subservient to one spirit, concludes his address to the power of Duty in the following words:

  • To humbler functions awful Power'1

The above is the Quotation.—

Mrs Lloyd will be obliged to you to bring her a bottle of Compound Volatile Camphor Lineament, from Godfrey's Southampton St. Covent Garden

My dear Sir,

I have sent to the Printer another Stanza to be inserted in Laodamia after,

'While tears were thy best pastime, day and night:' (not a full Stop as [before])

  •           And while my youthful peers, before my eyes,
  •           (Each Hero following his peculiar bent)
  •           Prepared themselves for glorious enterprize
  •           By martial sports,—or, seated in the tent,
  •           Chieftains and Kings in council were detained;
  •           What time the Fleet at Aulis lay enchained,
  •           The wish'd for wind was given:—I then revolved
  •           Our future course,' etc, so I fear it must be altered from

The oracle, lest these words should seem to allude to the other answer of the oracle which commanded the sacrifice of Iphigenia.2pg 195I wished you had mentioned why you desired the rough Copies of the Preface to be kept, as your request has led me to apprehend that something therein might have appeared to you as better or more clearly expressed—than in the after draught; and I should have been glad to reinstate accordingly.1 Pray write to us. We are all well,

  • I remain affectionately and faithfully yours       
  • Wm Wordsworth   

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Editor’s Note
1 The quotation, for which De Quincey must have asked, is from W.'s Letter to Mathetes, published in Coleridge's short-lived periodical The Friend on 14 Dec. 1809 and 4 Jan. 1810, and explains the much-criticized penultimate verse of the Ode to duty:
  •                     Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
  •                     The Godhead's most benignant grace, etc.
Editor’s Note
2 W. had evidently originally written 'I then revolved the Oracle'; but in 1820 he altered 'Our future course' back to 'The Oracle' which remained so in all subsequent editions. See PW ii, p. 270 app. crit.
Editor’s Note
1 It appears from this letter that De Quincey was once more correcting proofs for W., as he had in 1809 for the Cintra pamphlet. The Poems of 1815 comprising the Lyrical Ballads, the Poems in Two Volumes 1807, and some poems written since, including Laodamia, appeared in Mar. 1815. De Quincey, however, allowed one serious error in punctuation to creep into Laodamia—a full stop, instead of a comma, after 'enchained', which was never corrected until de Selincourt's edition of the PW (1944).
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