1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Peter Bayley

William Wordsworth to Thomas DeQuincey, 6 March 1804; Letters of the Wordsworth Family, ed. Knight (1907) 1:162.



I cannot forbear mentioning to you the way in which a wretched creature of the name of Peter Bailey has lately treated the author of your favourite book, the Lyrical Ballads. After pillaging them in a style of plagiarism, I believe unexampled in the history of modern literature, the wretch has had the baseness to write a long poem in ridicule of them, chiefly of The Idiot Boy; and, not content with this, in a note annexed to the same poem, has spoken of me, by name, as the simplest, i.e. the most contemptible of all poets! The complicated baseness of this (for the plagiarisms are absolutely wholesale) grieved me to the heart for the sake of poor human nature. That anybody could combine (as this man in some way or other must have done) an admiration and love of those poems, with moral feelings so detestable, hurt me beyond measure. If this unhappy creature's volume should ever fall in your way, you will find the plagiarisms chiefly in two poems, one entitled Evening in the Vale of Festinog, which is a wretched parody throughout of Tintern Abbey, and the other The Ivy Seat, also The Truest Fay, and some others.