In his magazine essays in the 1820s, Thomas De Quincey offers himself as a genius whose status is assured by his distance from the commercial market. Such cultural maneuvering is representative of a strain in Romanticism that has been stridently critiqued in New Historicist criticism in the last twenty-five years. The very insistence with which De Quincey made such claims tended to characterize him as a magazine "personality," providing a legible, and hence saleable, commercial product. The effort was paradoxical from the first. By insisting on his separation from the print market, De Quincey integrated himself into it.
In 1853, Thomas De Quincey suggested how the many and miscellaneous articles he produced in his long career could be divided into three categories for collected publication: "First, into that class which proposes primarily to amuse the reader ... Into the second class I throw those papers which address themselves purely to the understanding as an insulated faculty ... Finally, as a third class, and, in virtue of their aim, a far higher class of compositions ... [are] modes of impassioned prose ranging under no precedents that I am aware of in any literature." (1) De Quincey relies on a hierarchy of genre that reproduces a conventional opposition between "high" literature and writing defined by its relationship with the commercial marketplace. Periodical writing, a "mode of publication ... unavoidably disadvantageous to a writer" is produced to sell, to "amuse the reader," and only some writers (De Quincey being one of them only occasionally) are able to produce the kind of writing that transcends the conditions of its production, becoming "literature." (2) De Quincey is the subject of numerous recent critical revaluations, and many have understood him, as he did himself, in terms of his relationship with the periodical press. Some critics find De Quincey interesting for the ways he transcends that context, making himself into a literary figure, while others see him as symptomatic of the ideological and political debates engendered by the periodical mode of publication. The distinction that De Quincey draws between the commercial and the artistic has, however, remained largely unaddressed--literature and commerce still seem mutually exclusive. (3) I want to suggest that it is precisely by insisting on such distinctions that De Quincey reveals his complicity with the commercial world he seems to shun. Paradoxically, it is in his protestations of distance from the commercial that De Quincey reveals his integration into the contemporary marketplace. De Quincey's text proclaims its literariness as a successful kind of niche marketing, a tactic all the more successful because he recognizes the anxieties aroused by the commercialization of literary production, by the rapidly increasing size and rapidly changing character of the audience for print. By becoming "literary," the Opium-eater made himself marketable.
De Quincey assumes a distinction that begins to emerge in the Romantic period between writing defined by its independence from the marketplace as literature and writing defined by its implication in the marketplace as trash. He represents his relationship with the periodical press as an unfortunate necessity in a career that nonetheless allowed him to produce writing that transcended market conditions. De Quincey may have been a hack author, but he was also a literary genius. The construction of genius as a quality that frees its possessor from the limitations of historical circumstance has come under increasing critical suspicion in Romantic studies. Jerome J. McGann's influential call for a "critical" vantage point from which to view the self-representational strategies of Romantic period criticism is heeded in a number of key studies. (4) This criticism rigorously contests the familiar figure of the Romantic genius isolated from society, politics, and the commercial marketplace. Such criticism has sought to demonstrate that the cultural isolation of genius is the product of a particular cultural criticism operating under particular historical pressures. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, like De Quincey, saw an inevitable career trajectory from youthful idealism to aesthetic isolation, but critics such as McGann represent such models as historically conditioned constructs in need of reappraisal.
In recent years, such criticism has produced important new understandings of the way that Romantic critical concepts, especially those that posit an opposition between literature and history, are determined by specific historical circumstances. Studies of the period's print culture lend support to these findings. As William St. Clair's study of publishing in the Romantic period ably demonstrates, the period between 1780 and 1830 saw an extraordinary increase in the size of the publishing market, both in terms of the number of new publications and the number of readers to whom those publications were sold. (5) Critics including Clifford Siskin and Jon P. Klancher have noticed the redefinition of "literature" that coincided with Romanticism was produced by a recognition of and anxiety about these market conditions. For Siskin, the shift in the scope of "literature" from designating all writing to designating imaginative writing is central to an understanding of the period. (6) Lucy Newlyn and Andrew Bennett have shown how some of the features that are associated with Romantic literature, a disapproval of contemporary popularity, for example, are also connected to anxieties produced by the growth of the market. (7) All of these critics recognize a common anxiety among writers in the period, the anxiety that the literary sphere had grown so large that their own work risked being swallowed by it.
Such work moves beyond the New Historicist paradigm established by McGann, but it shares with his work a desire to demystify Romantic critical constructs. I wish to offer a qualification. Historicist criticism in the tradition of McGann importantly recognizes the implication of the historical in cultural strategies designed to position writers outside of history, but this risks suggesting that such cultural maneuvers are unselfconsciously produced by those historical circumstances. De Quinceyan genius, like the Romantic cult of posterity, emerges as a response to the print market. Yet, placing De Quincey's self-representation in the context of the magazine writing of the 1820s need not end in denial of his authorial agency. Magazine writing in this period foregrounds its self-consciousness, particularly when it comes to the production of cultural critiques. Such writing poses a challenge to McGann's kind of historicism in its awareness of cultural circumstances. Historicist critics often represent Romantic writers as naively unaware of these circumstances. De Quincey's self-presentation, like those of other writers from the periodical press, is predicated on a clear understanding of the way the print market functions.
The anxiety suggested by a seemingly endless proliferation of print was redoubled when writing appeared in a form that suggested, by its regular weekly, monthly, or quarterly production, not only temporality (the article is in a periodical "for" September 1821), but also in its miscellaneousness, the diversity of the readership to which it was addressed. Mark L. Schoenfield points out that, "For many romantic writers, identity became vexed upon entering (or imagining entering) the literary marketplace," and taking their place within a "corporation" of "writer[s], publishers, reviewers." (8) Writers started to redefine the idea of authorship at the point at which they recognized that it was threatened by the sheer size of the expanding publishing industry. Klancher suggests that "the importance 'style' itself assumes in the nineteenth century owes partly to this impersonality of the public text. Style becomes a sign, a marker of the (always inferred) relation of the audience to the writer hidden behind the corporate text." (9) Writers, as Klancher recognizes, needed to become recognizable to a public they could not personally know, and so style became a kind of guarantor of personal identity. De Quincey's expressions of anxiety about the periodical press are symptomatic of a more general anxiety about literary production, but this anxiety manifested itself interestingly in terms of style.
De Quincey recognized the changes in the print market in a piece for the London Magazine in 1823: "In my youthful days I never entered a great library, suppose of 100,000 volumes, but my predominant feeling was one of pain and disturbance ... Here, said I, are 100,000 books--the worst of them capable of giving me some pleasure and instruction: and before I can have time to extract the honey from 1-20th of this hive, in all likelihood I shall be summoned away." Even subtracting "professional books--books of reference ... from the universal library of Europe, there would still remain a total of not less than twelve hundred thousand books over and above what the presses of Europe are still disemboguing into the ocean of literature." (10) De Quincey gives voice to a recurring anxiety about the endless proliferation of print: more is being written than it is possible for any individual to read. Any new publication, including De Quincey's article, is in danger of being engulfed by the rising tide of print. De Quincey's response was typically "Romantic"; he became an isolated, solitary genius who produced writing that insisted on his opposition to the contemporary marketplace. Yet such protestations are what best reveal his implication in the conditions he sought to evade.
De Quincey often registered something like disdain for the magazine market in which he made his name, but, from the first, he displayed an ability to adapt to the new magazine style that developed in the period and was characterized most particularly by Blackwood's Magazine. He began his magazine career with Blackwood's, and despite his publishing Confessions of an English Opium-eater at the rival London Magazine, the Blackwood's writers always seemed to regard him as one of their own. Indeed, "The English Opium-eater" appeared in an edition of Blackwood's Nodes Ambrosianae in October 1823 when he was still a dedicated contributor to the London Magazine. The appearance of "The English Opium-eater," as Mark Parker recognizes in his recent edition of the Noctes, "seems more a homecoming than a visit," because De Quincey "shared the ideology and politics of its owner and regular contributors." (11) The very way in which De Quincey constructed his literary character made such an appearance highly appropriate. The Blackwood's writers engaged in what Peter Murphy calls "an extended language-experiment" made possible by particular literary and social conditions. (12) As Murphy argues, "the Blackwood's experiments force us to acknowledge that the published self is a curiously unstable thing, almost impossible to control and almost impossible to bring home to some person with a body." (13) Hence, the Ettrick Shepherd (James Hogg) and the Opium-eater (De Quincey) appeared at Ambrose's, the Edinburgh pub that was the semifictional site of these textual "meetings," in an article that was, in fact, written entirely by John Wilson. The publishing world has grown too large to be a knowable community, and Murphy perceptively recognizes that this allows the boundaries between fiction and fact to be dismantled. Christopher North, the magazine's putative editor and aging gout-ridden Scottish Tory, may be a fictional character, but real people were just as likely to be co-opted into the fictional world. Styles were reproduced with or without the originators' consent, and this was in an age in which writers' principal claim to identity was style. Writers needed to define themselves by their styles; they needed to become names before the public eye in an age of vast audiences and enormous literary production. Tom Mole recently argued that George Gordon, Lord Byron's oddly reproducible celebrity is a product of these conditions. (14) Written identities become more strongly marked in this period in order to occlude the gulf between reader and writer, but the individualized style that fixes the identity of the writer is itself defined by its relationship with the print market rather than with the person who constructed that stylized identity. The Opium-eater is joined at Ambrose's by "Vivian Joyeuse," a fictional character in Knight's Quarterly Magazine's own Noctes-esque forum. (15) Asked by North who he is, he replies, "I am something of a non-descript." (16) All literary characters exist for the public as only a characteristic style so that no such character is ever more than "something of a non-descript." Hogg developed his own instantly recognizable style long before he appeared in the Noctes, but series like the Nodes recognize that once a name is forged in the public sphere in this way, it becomes endlessly reproducible. (17)
The features that made the character a successful addition to the Noctes forum were precisely those that De Quincey develops in his essays for the London Magazine. De Quincey uses his penchant for philosophical abstraction as a device to help him establish himself before the public. Early reviewers of Confessions recognize how integral De Quincey's learning was to the experience of the book itself. A critic for the North American Review worries that "the writer makes too much display of his 'superb intellect,' as he seems to consider it." (18) It is significant that the reviewer considers De Quincey's "superb intellect" a "display," a feature regularly noticed in reviews of Confessions. The British Critic, New Series agrees that "the author of this little volume is a smart, clever person, but is so extremely anxious that the world should think him a genius, that it is really very difficult to distinguish, that part of his book which consists of sober truth, from that which is, perhaps, merely the effect of large quantities of opium." The reviewer goes on to admit that "the history which he gives of the progress of the diseased appetite which he had created, and of the symptoms attendant upon his cure, are however detailed with so much genius, and fancy, and poetry, and metaphysics--which things our author seems to consider as the basis of his character,--that we shall forbear from producing any extracts from this part of the work." (19) The reviews recognize that the book functions to vividly bring before the public a character, and central to that character's establishment is his characteristic style--"genius, and fancy, and poetry, and metaphysics."
Confessions is subtitled "Being an Extract from the Life of a Scholar," and De Quincey insists that the book's value consists of his scholarship rather than his addiction. The Opium-eater confesses that he "boasteth himself to be a philosopher" with "a superb intellect" both in the "analytic functions," which set him above every thinker in Britain, "with the exceptions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and ... David Ricardo," and in such "moral faculties, as shall give him an inner eye and the power of intuition for the vision and the mysteries of our human nature." (20) The Opium-eater aligns himself deliberately with the Lake School, those poets and philosophers who distinguished themselves by their meditative inwardness and their indifference to popular opinion. These traits regularly attracted criticism, to which the Shepherd gives voice; he admires the Lakers, but they are "great yegotists; and Wudsworth the warst o' ye a'; for he'll alloo nae merit to ony leevin cretur but himsel." (21) As the Shepherd recognizes, the Lake poets defined themselves as literary figures by cultivating an egotism born of a professed disregard for contemporary culture. In creating a public literary character dependent upon that character's separation from the "reading public," De Quincey was following a model that Wordsworth and Coleridge had already established. The Opium-eater insists that he sits at a distance from ordinary society that is at once geographical and intellectual, "buried in the depths of the mountains ... chiefly studying German metaphysics, in the writings of Kant, Fichte, Schelling," much as readers might have imagined the other Lake School metaphysician. (22) Nigel Leask argues that De Quincey's Confessions is an attempt to "rewrite" Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, and Robert Morrison draws attention to the many doubles of the Opium-eater that appeared in the publishing world of the 1820s, appropriately because the Opium-eater is himself a double of Coleridge. (23) De Quincey models himself on Coleridge most particularly in using a distinctively Coleridgean paradox to integrate himself into the marketplace.
Both Coleridge and De Quincey protested their contempt of public opinion, yet both also succeeded in making themselves recognizable to the public they seemed to shun. Peter George Patmore, referring to a parody of Coleridge that had appeared in Horace and James Smith's Rejected Addresses, notices that "it is true his pieces are all so characteristic, in point of matter and style, that any of them may easily be imitated, now they are written." (24) Pierce Egan's Life in London offers a deliberately varied series of metropolitan amusements as a course of education in "SEEING LIFE." (25) Egan advises his readers to sample London life in all its variety, from the Royal Academy to the cock-pit, but he also suggests that readers take "a turn in the evening to listen to Coleridge, Fuseli, Flaxman, and Soane, if the MIND make a hit, and some striking impressions are implanted upon the memory, then the advantages resulting from the varieties of 'LIFE' must here again be acknowledged." (26) Despite his failure to establish himself as the great philosophical mind of his generation, Coleridge succeeded in becoming a celebrity as he recognized in Biographia Literaria: "It has been my lot to have had my name introduced, both in conversation and in print, more frequently than I find it easy to explain, whether I consider the fewness, unimportance and limited circulation of my writings, or the retirement and distance in which I have lived, both from the literary and political world." (27) De Quincey recognized that it was both the fewness of his writings and his profession of retirement from the public gaze that was central to the public identity of "Coleridge" and turned that process to his own account.
When, in 1851, Thomas Carlyle described Coleridge's talk as being "distinguished, like himself, by irresolution," he was picking up on a commonplace assertion. (28) Coleridge's frequent remarks on the "fewness" of his writings caused by "the accumulating embarrassments of procrastination," and "a careless indifference to public opinion" were available for imitation. (29) In his Spirit of the Age portrait of Coleridge, William Hazlitt recognized that Coleridge's habitual protestations of unfulfilled genius had become central to his public persona. Hazlitt argues that, "If Mr Coleridge had not been the most impressive talker of his age, he would probably have been the finest writer; but he lays down his pen to make sure of an auditor, and mortgages the admiration of posterity for the stare of an idler ... Mr. Coleridge is too rich in intellectual wealth, to need to task himself with any drudgery." (30) The Coleridge an/Wordsworthian definition of "literature" depended upon distinguishing art, which is written for posterity, from trash, which is written to make money. Hazlitt recognizes the paradox in Coleridge's literary identity. By endlessly talking about, rather than writing, his magnum opus, he succeeded in making himself into a public personality; he became well known for publishing fragments and promises. He claims an intellectual status that is authenticated rather than undermined by his inability to complete a poem such as Christabel or the theory of the imagination that he promises in Biographia Literaria. Hazlitt perceptively inverts the commercial/aesthetic distinction by suggesting that it is precisely through this pose of rarefied aestheticism that Coleridge becomes commercial. It is by posing as the philosopher indifferent to publication that he "mortgages" himself, ignoring "posterity" for contemporary regard, the "stare of an idler."
Coleridge marketed himself as an epic failure, and De Quincey borrows this as an aspect of his own literary character. The first of his notes on the "Pains of Opium" describes the woeful falling off in his studious habits: "I had devoted the labour of my whole life, and had dedicated my intellect, blossom and fruits, to the slow and elaborate toil of constructing one single work, to which I had presumed to give the title of an unfinished work of Spinosa's; viz. De emendatione humani intellectus. This was now lying locked up ... it was likely to stand as a memorial to my children of hopes defeated, of baffled efforts, of materials uselessly accumulated, of foundations laid that were never to support a superstructure,--of the grief and the ruin of the architect." (31) The Opium-eater confesses to a philosophical ambition so great that it results almost inevitably in failure. Another vast scheme proved more manageable. De Quincey describes how he managed to draw up a Prolegomena to All Future Systems of Political Economy. This work got as far as advertisement for publication, but "I had a preface to write; and a dedication ... I found myself quite unable to accomplish all this." (32) Like Wordsworth's Recluse and Coleridge's oft-promised Magnum Opus, the Opium-eater's projects are vast and ambitious but always postponed. The Opium-eater represents himself, thus, as a particular type--the damaged philosophical genius, retired from the bustle of life, and unable to contribute to the public life of the community. What makes him "Romantic," like Coleridge, is his inability to produce "copy"--in Hazlitt's terms, "to task himself with any drudgery"--an inability to turn his grand thoughts into a saleable product. He alone rests assured of his genius while the public must rest content with promises and fragments.
When De Quincey resumed writing articles for the London Magazine after the publication of Confessions in book form in 1822, he focused frequently on the figure of the failed genius. After expressing his sense of dismay at the vast extent of the world of letters in the third "Letter to a Young Man," the Opium-eater draws out what he feels are the consequences for grandly ambitious minds which attempt to produce totalizing theses. Friedrich Bouterwek proposed and published "a history in twelve volumes, of modern literature from the end of the 13th century." De Quincey exposes the "monstrous and insane pretensions" involved in a plan to give "no sketch ... or abstract ... but a full and formal history" of Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, French, and Italian literature, enough, as he points out, for "full employment for twelve able-bodied men through an entire life." (33) Frederic Schlegel's plans are still more absurdly vast, but De Quincey is more forgiving. "Their criticisms are utterly worthless--being all words--words--words: however, with this difference, that Bouterwek's is simply =0 [sic], being the mere rubbishy sweepings from the works of literatuli long since defunct: but Schlegel's, agreeably to his natural haughtiness and superior talents, are bad in a positive sense--being filled with such conceits, fancies, and fictions, as you would naturally expect from a clever man talking about what he had never, in any true sense of the word, read." (34) Schlegel's project results in an epic failure, but one that De Quincey nonetheless values, because it is Schlegel's failings that place him in the cultural category of the failed genius. Discussing whether Johann Gottfried Herder is a "great man," he decides that, after a paragraph of tortured qualifications, "upon the whole, the best notion I can give of Herder to the English reader, is to say that he is the German Coleridge." They both have "the same all-grasping erudition, the same spirit of universal research," but "both are men of infinite title pages. ... I have heard Mr. Coleridge acknowledge that his title pages alone (titles, that is, of works meditated but unexecuted) would fill a large volume: and, it is clear that, if Herder's power had been commensurate with his will, all other authors must have been put down: many generations would have been unable to read to the end of his works." (35) De Quincey gives a list of the proposed works (a list longer than Schlegel's) but, as in his portrait of Schlegel, Herder's absurd pretensions are treated indulgently and with a reflexive humor. Describing his habits of life, De Quincey notes, "all this temperance, however, led to nothing: he died when he was but four months advanced in his sixtieth year. Surely, if he had been a drunkard or an opium-eater, he might have contrived to weather the point of sixty years." (36) He was a happy family man, and wanted "perhaps a little well-boiled opium, combined with a good deal of lemonade or orangeade ... to have been the happiest man in Germany." (37) De Quincey here deliberately aligns himself with both Herder and Coleridge as another instance of the philosophical writer with a tendency to promise much and deliver little, distinguished from Herder but not from Coleridge by his opium habit. It was in this character that he presented himself to the readers of the London Magazine.
The London Magazine features the first three "Letters to a Young Man" in 1823, and in the "Lion's Head" leader column, the Opium-eater apologizes for the delay in the appearance of the fourth: "I send you as much of my fourth letter as I have been able to write: that it is not completed, you must impute to no neglect of mine, but to an inflammatory complaint attended with pain, which for the last ten or twelve days has rendered all attempt to compose very laborious to me ... For your readers in general, I suspect, that they will rejoice to find that you have 'lightened ships' for one month by discharging some of your heaviest lading." (38) Like Herder and Coleridge, the Opium-eater promises more than he can deliver, but the publication of such an apology is evidence not so much of De Quincey's difficulty with deadlines as it is of his awareness of how public identity worked. After all, De Quincey was in a period of unusually brisk creativity--the first six months of 1823 saw six full articles, a translation, and a series of shorter notes published in the London Magazine--and even when the series of "Letters" was interrupted, the Opium-eater stayed before the public with this letter in the "Lion's Head," the article on Herder, and a shorter piece on Anglo-German dictionaries, all in the April edition. It was precisely at the point that he was confidently and successfully establishing himself in the magazine market that he insisted on his similarity to figures of heroic failure such as Herder, Schlegel, and Coleridge.
In an article for the London Magazine in September 1823, De Quincey introduces yet another heroic failure, Walking Stewart. So assured was Walking Stewart, both of his own genius and of the inability of the public to comprehend that genius, that he entreated his followers to bury a copy of his work "seven or eight feet below the surface of the earth; and on their death beds to communicate the knowledge of this fact to some confidential friends." (39) Worrying that the English language itself might not survive, he asks the Opium-eater to translate his works into Latin: "However, like many another plan of mine, it went unexecuted." (40) De Quincey recognizes that Walking Stewart was "a man of genius, but not a man of talents; at least his genius was out of all proportion to his talents, and wanted an organ as it were for manifesting itself; his ideas, accordingly, were "not producible to a popular audience." (41) This is the fate of such minds, De Quincey suggests. His account of Walking Stewart is a cautionary tale of a kind, just as Confessions was offered as a cautionary tale of a rather different kind, promising to be "useful and instructive" in its account of addiction. (42) But in both cases, Walking Stewart and the Opium-eater achieve a celebrity status that is paradoxically grounded in their failures.
This shows De Quincey's acute awareness of the way that magazine personalities established themselves. De Quincey deliberately represents himself, as he did in Confessions, buried amid the mountains and the Lakes, oblivious to such temporal concerns as fame and publishing deadlines, lacking even the ability to express his ideas in a comprehensible fashion. De Quincey introduces the examples of Bouterwek and Schlegel as "the case of two eminent literati, who are at this moment exhibiting themselves as a couple of figurantes (if I may so say) on the stage of Europe." (43) De Quincey realizes that it is precisely the spectacularization of failure that makes these figures interesting to an age quite uninterested in their works. He understands that, in the modern world, the philosopher has become a spectacle and is able to sell himself as the public spectacle of his own defeated genius. De Quincey's expression of frustrated ambition, his confession of his inability to bring his work to completion, and his prose style, which suggests he has no concern for his audience, are accompanied in his essays by frequent allusions to the rush of composition. After the appearance of the first installment of Confessions, he accounts for a discrepancy of dates in his essay in the "Lion's Head." He puts the discrepancy down to "the hurry of composing the narrative," and referring to an early article on J. P. F. Richter in his article on Herder, he apologizes again: "I did him great injustice; for, working, unfortunately, at a pace of almost furious speed, I was obliged to correct myself with what specimens as I had at hand." (44) These apologies work together with his apologies for his failure to complete larger works to advertise him as a particular type of character, a character defined by his unfitness for the commercial market. Paradoxically, it is his denial of the marketplace that makes him so successful within it.
At the end of the 1823 London Magazine article on Walking Stewart, De Quincey asks a favor of his readers: "About the year 1812 I remember seeing in many of the print-shops a whole-length sketch of Walking Stewart in his customary dress and attitude. This, as the only memorial (I presume) in that shape of a man whose memory I love, I should be very glad to possess; and therefore I take the liberty of publicly requesting as a particular favour from any reader of this article, who may chance to remember such a sketch in any collection of prints offered for sale, that he would cause it to be sent to the Editor of the LONDON MAGAZINE, who will pay for it." (45) De Quincey situates Walking Stewart, as he did himself, in London and recognizes that Walking Stewart has become a London "type," a metropolitan "character." It is his eccentricities that make Walking Stewart so fit a subject for caricature. By the same token, it is the skill with which De Quincey creates a characteristic style for himself that made the Opium-eater so easily reproduced in forums such as the Nodes Ambrosianae. De Quincey's Opium-eater fits so well into the Noctes because De Quincey understood the nature of public identity as acutely as did the Blackwood's writers. The Opium-eater construct, in its very constructedness, stands as a testament to De Quincey's mastery of the playfully self-conscious mode of literary self-representation that writers began to employ in the period. It was a manner that allowed De Quincey, like Coleridge before him, to make himself instantly recognizable, and hence saleable, by insisting on a literariness that is defined by its separation from the marketplace.
(1) Thomas De Quincey, "Prefaces &c. From Selections Grave and Gay," in The Works of Thomas De Quincey, ed. Grevel Lindop, 21 vols. (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2003), 20:12-6.
(2) De Quincey, "Prefaces &c.," 20:10.
(3) John C. Whale, Thomas De Quincey's Reluctant Autobiography (London: Croom Helm, 1984), and D. D. Devlin, De Quincey, Wordsworth, and the Art of Prose (Basingstoke UK: Macmillan, 1983) suggest that it is through his connection with the periodical press that De Quincey succeeded in creating a unique artistic form, the article being, in Devlin's words, "the perfect me dium for his equivalent to Wordsworth's 'spots of time'" (p. 12). Cian Duffy exemplifies recent accounts of De Quincey's relationship with the periodical market arguing that it is his sense of "unease" about his status as a periodical journalist that produces his statements of anxiety regarding the proliferation of novels and novel readers ("'His Canaille of an Audience': Thomas De Quincey and the Revolution in Reading,'" SIR 44, 1 [Spring 2005]: 7-22, 19). Josephine McDonagh discusses his anxious relationship with a culture of "bibliomania" in "De Quincey and the Secret Life of Books" in Thomas De Quincey: New Theoretical and Critical Directions, ed. Robert Morrison and Daniel Sanjiv Roberts (New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. 123-42. Margaret Russett perceptively locates the apparent discontinuity between De Quincey's "imbrication in the cult of self-sustaining genius, on one hand, and the context of periodical writing and proto-professional criticism, on the other" as central to an understanding of his relationship with the idea of the literary, drawing a picture of De Quincey recognizing his own "minority" in relation to his literary ambitions (De Quincey's Romanticism: Canonical Minority and the Forms of Transmission [Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997], p. 2).
(4) See Jerome J. McGann, The Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1983). For McGann, Romantic ideology "will necessarily be seen as false consciousness when observed from any critical vantage, and particularly from the point of view of a materialist and historical criticism" (p. 12). See also Alan Liu, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1989); Marjorie Levinson, Wordsworth's Great Period Poems: Four Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986); and James Chandler, England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1998).
(5) William St. Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004). See also James Raven, Judging New Wealth: Popular Publishing and Responses to Commerce in England, 1750-1800 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).
(6) Clifford Siskin, "More is Different: Literary Change in the Mid and Late Eighteenth Century," in The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660-1780, ed. John Richetti (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005), pp. 795-823; and Jon P. Klancher, The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1987).
(7) Lucy Newlyn, Reading, Writing, and Romanticism: The Anxiety of Reception (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), and Andrew Bennett, Romantic Poets and the Culture of Posterity (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999).
(8) Mark L. Schoenfield, "Butchering James Hogg: Romantic Identity in the Magazine Market" in At the Limits of Romanticism: Essays in Cultural, Feminist, and Materialist Criticism, ed. Mary A. Favret and Nicola J. Watson (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana Univ. Press, 1994), pp. 207-24, 209, 212. See also Schoenfield, British Periodicals and Romantic Identity: The "Literary Lower Empire" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
(9) Klancher, p. 51.
(10) De Quincey, "Letters to a Young Man Whose Education has Been Neglected" in London Magazine 7 (March 1823): 325-35, 327. Subsequent references to the London Magazine will be abbreviated LM. An important recent article, if one with rather different concerns to my own, by Brian McGrath reinterprets De Quincey's famous distinction between literatures of "knowledge" and "power" with reference to these articles ("Thomas De Quincey and the Language of Literature: Or, on the Necessity of Ignorance," SEL 47, 4 [Autumn 2007]: 847-62).
(11) John Wilson and John Gibson Lockhart, Noctes No. XII, in Blackwood's Magazine, 1817-25: Selections from Maga's Infancy, ed. Nicholas Mason, 6 vols. (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006), 3:207.
(12) Peter Murphy, "Impersonation and Authorship in Romantic Britain," ELH 59, 3 (Autumn 1992): 625-49, 626. Russett connects this to an understanding of De Quincey, arguing that the Opium-eater persona, "ambiguously signature, fiction, and autobiographical subject ... may stand as a paradigm for the figuration of periodical writing" (p. 115).
(13) Murphy, p. 635.
(14) What Tom Mole calls the "hermeneutic of intimacy" permits consumers with no opportunity to encounter George Gordon, Lord Byron physically the opportunity to gain access to Byron's subjectivity by means of his writing (Byron's Romantic Celebrity: Industrial Culture and the Hermeneutic of Intimacy [Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007]).
(15) Knight's Quarterly Magazine, the Cambridge sequel to the popular Etonian, adopted a very Blackwoodian style (hence the praise in the Noctes), and contained meetings similar to those at Ambrose's, supposed to take place at "Castle Vernon." See "Castle Vernon," in Knight's Quarterly Magazine 1 (June 1823): 1-5. De Quincey wrote for the magazine, and the Opium-eater duly made an appearance at one of these meetings ("Castle Vernon," in Knight's Quarterly Magazine 3 [November 1824]: 315-28, 328).
(16) Noctes Ambrosianae No. XII in Blackwood's 14 (October 1823): 484-503, 487.
(17) Hogg wrote to William Blackwood in 1819 (the Noctes began in March 1822), "I really would like better that my book were published in London because my bookseller and stile are so well known that I may as well put my name to it as publish it with you" (Hogg to Blackwood, 30 November 1819, in The Collected Letters of James Hogg, ed. Gillian Hughes, 3 vols. [Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2004-08]: 1:428).
(18) Review of Confessions of an Opium-Eater, in North American Review 18 (January 1824): 90-8, 92.
(19) Review of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, British Critic 18 (November 1822): 531-4, 531, 532.
(20) De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, in LM 4 (September 1821): 293-312, 295, 296.
(21) Noctes Ambrosianae No. XII in Blackwood's 14 (October 1823): 212.
(22) De Quincey, Confessions, in LM 4 (October 1821): 353-79, 362.
(23) Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992), pp. 179-95, and Robert Morrison, "De Quincey and the Opium Eater's Other Selves," Romanticism 5, 1 (April 1999): 87-103.
(24) Peter George Patmore, Letters on England by Victoire, Count de Soligny, 2 vols. (London: Colburn, 1823), 2:82.
(25) Pierce Egan, Life in London; or, the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq. and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis (London: Sherwood, Jones, 1823).
(26) Egan, p. 29.
(27) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria or Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions, ed. James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate, in The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Kathleen Coburn, 16 vols. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), 1:5.
(28) Thomas Carlyle, Frederich Not to Be Overwhelmed in The Works of Thomas Carlyle, 30 vols. (London: Chapman and Hall, 1864), 11:56. See Seamus Perry, S. T. Coleridge: Interviews and Recollections (Basingstoke UK: Palgrave, 2000) for further contemporary accounts of the Coleridgean persona.
(29) Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1:45, 44.
(30) William Hazlitt, The Spirit of the Age in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. Percival Presland Howe, 21 vols. (London: J. M. Dent, 1930-34), 11:30.
(31) De Quincey, Confessions, in LM 4 (October 1821): 370.
(32) De Quincey, Confessions, in LM 4 (October 1821): 371. It is telling that the British Critic picked up on this episode, pausing to wonder "if it be not all a hoax" (p. 534).
(33) De Quincey, "Letters to a Young Man," pp. 329-30.
(34) De Quincey, "Letters to a Young Man," p. 330.
(35) De Quincey, "Death of a German Great Man," in LM 7 (April 1823): 373-80, 373.
(36) De Quincey, "Death," p. 374.
(37) De Quincey, "Death," p. 375.
(38) De Quincey, "The Lion's Head," in LM 7 (April 1823): 371-2, 371.
(39) De Quincey, "Walking Stewart," in LM 8 (September 1823): 253-60, 257.
(40) De Quincey, "Walking," p. 258.
(41) De Quincey, "Walking," p. 260.
(42) De Quincey, Confessions, in LM 4 (September 1821): 294.
(43) De Quincey, "Letters to a Young Man," p. 329.
(44) De Quincey, "Lion's Head," in LM 4 (October 1821): 351-2. 351; and De Quincey, "Death," p. 378.
(45) De Quincey, "Walking," p. 260.
David Stewart is lecturer in nineteenth-century literature at Northumbria University, UK. He has published widely on Romantic-period magazines and print culture.…