1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

John Taylor Esq., in Records of my Life (1832) 2:287-88.



WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, ESQ. With the merits of this gentleman, who has struck out a line of original and natural poetry, which must rank his name very high among the bards of this country, I was well acquainted, and wished to know personally the author of such interesting compositions. To my surprise, conscious of my own unimportance, I received a letter from him many years ago, accompanied with two volumes of his Lyrical Ballads; the letter imported a desire to know what impression his poems, written by an author living in rural retirement, had made upon a man living in the bustle of active life. It was not a little gratifying to me to find that I was known at all to a poet of such original merit, and residing at so distant a place. Not having immediately an opportunity of perusing the volumes, I wrote to him to acknowledge having received them, and expressing my belief that I should very soon have occasion to thank him for the pleasure which they had afforded me. Very soon after I took up the volumes , and was so much gratified by the impressive simplicity and original genius which characterized the whole, that I wrote to him again, to testify the pleasure which they had afforded me. In his answer, he expressed his satisfaction with the opinion which I had given of his work, and after a little farther correspondence between us, I heard from him no more.

It is usual for the Royal Academicians to send an invitation to their patrons and friends, to view the annual exhibition a day or two before it is opened to the public; when I had the command of a newspaper some years ago, I was favoured with a card, particularly from my late friend Mr. West, the president, but now I have lost all interest of that kind. On one of these occasions, as I was going up the stairs of the academy, I overtook Sir George Beaumont and a gentleman, whom he introduced to me as Mr. Wordsworth. I was very much gratified in seeing him, and he testified similar pleasure in seeing me, insomuch that we paid more attention to each other than to the pictures. Sir George invited me to dine with him, and to meet Mr. Wordsworth, and this invitation the worthy baronet frequently repeated while Mr. Wordsworth remained in town. I hardly need add, that these invitations were a source of more than amusement, as it would be strange indeed if I had not profited mentally by such enlightened society.