1851 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Quillinan

Christopher Wordsworth, in Memoirs of William Wordsworth (1851) 2:382-87.



Edward Quillinan, Esq., to whom Dora Wordsworth was married, is eldest son of John Quillinan, Esq., merchant of Oporto. He was born at Oporto, on the 12th August, 1791. He was at school for a short time at Sedgley Park, in Staffordshire; then, for some years, at Bornheim House, Carshalton, at that time a Dominican College. He went to Oporto, to his father, in 1807. The English residents were driven from Portugal two or three months afterwards by the approach of the French. Mr. Quillinan entered the army as cornet by purchase, in the 2d Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays), in 1808. In 1809 he was with the Walcheren expedition, and witnessed the bombardment of Flushing, from the Scheldt, for the cavalry were not disembarked. He purchased a lieutenancy in the 23d Light Dragoons on their return from Talavera, and subsequently exchanged into the 3d Dragoon Guards; and joined that regiment, near St. Sebastian, in Spain, in 1813, and was with it throughout the campaign of 1814, which ended with the war the same year at Toulouse. He received a medal of honour for that day. In 1817, Mr. Quillinan married Jemima A. D. Brydges, second daughter of Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart., of Denton Court, near Dover, by his first wife. He afterwards joined his regiment in Ireland, and was with it for some time in Scotland. In 1820-21 he was quartered at Penrith, and then first became personally acquainted with Mr. Wordsworth, of whose works he had been a constant admirer, through evil and good report, during his life in the army. This year, 1821, he quitted the service, and settled in the vale of Rydal, in a house taken for him by Mr. Wordsworth, for the sake of whose society, even more than for the beauty of the district, he became a resident at the lakes. He made an excursion in this year with Mr. Wordsworth to Fountain's Abbey, Bolton Priory, York, &c., returning by the Yorkshire Caves and Craven country. Mrs. Quillinan died in 1822, at the cottage, Rydal (now Mr. Ball's, but much enlarged by him), six months after the birth of her second child, both daughters. Her monument in Grasmere church was designed by Sir F. Chantrey, and executed at his house in Eccleston street, under the superintendence of Allan Cunningham. The first six lines of the inscribed verse were written by Mr. Wordsworth.

Mr. Quillinan's two daughters by this marriage had been connected from infancy with Mr. Wordsworth as a poet, when Dora Wordsworth became to them as a mother. His beautiful lines to a Portrait were suggested by a picture of the elder; and the younger was an object of special interest to him as his godchild.

Rotha! my spiritual child, this head was grey
When at the sacred font for thee I stood.

Mr. Quillinan, at the request of his brother-in-law, Colonel Brydges Barrett, of the Grenadier Guards, then left Westmoreland to reside at Lee Priory, the seat of that gentleman, near Canterbury, whose family were abroad, and who was for the most part in London or elsewhere, with his regiment. Here Mr. Q. received more than one visit from Mr. Wordsworth, and the several members of his family. Soon after the return of Sir E. B.'s family from the continent, to reside at Lee, Mr. Quillinan went to Portugal to visit his father, and on his return took a house in town, where he was occasionally visited by Mr. Wordsworth and his family, by whom he also often was received at Rydal. Mr. Quillinan was married 1841, to Dora, Mr. Wordsworth's only daughter, at Bath, where her father and mother and brothers were with her, on a visit to a very dear friend. After a short tour in Somersetshire, partly with her father and mother and Miss F., Mr. and Mrs. Q. went to pass some weeks at Rydal Mount. Afterwards they removed to Canterbury for a few months, and then to London. In the winter of 1843-44 they returned to live near Rydal. In April 1845, it was recommended that a more genial climate should be sought in the south for the benefit of Mrs. Quillinan's health, which had long been very delicate. Mrs. Quillinan has described their residence at Oporto, and visit to Lisbon, and to the places of chief interest on the southern coast, including also Seville and the Alhambra, in her published Journal on Portugal, Spain, &c. They came home via Marseilles and Paris in the summer of 1846, having, as they fondly believed (alas! that hope was of very brief duration) fully succeeded in the object for which they went, Mrs. Quillinan's restoration to health.

They then returned to the neighbourhood of Rydal. To the inexpressible grief of her husband, father, mother, brothers, and friends, Dora Quillinan died in 1847, little more than a year after her return to her native vale.

Mr. Quillinan is the author of The Conspirators, a series of Tales on the Philadelphian Plots in Napoleon's Armies; and also of various Reviews, chiefly on foreign literature; and of many poems, most of which are in manuscript, and among them a translation in 8va rima, of the first half (or five cantos) of the Lusiad of Camoens. He is at present engaged on a Translation of the History of Portugal, by Sr. Herculano, Librarian to the King. This work, of which only three or four volumes are yet published, is so elaborately and ably written by the Portuguese author as to lessen regret for the non-accomplishment of Mr. Southey's long-meditated work on the same subject.