Wordsworth in Early American Criticism

By Annabel Newton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE PERIOD OF FULL APPRECIATION

I

The date 1824, as noted in chapter iv, was a crucial one, for it marked a change in America's attitude toward Wordsworth. Eighteen-fifty was another outstanding year, for within it occurred an event of deep interest to literary lovers on both sides of the Atlantic. In that year William Wordsworth died. Since he had reached the age of eighty years, his death was not unexpected; yet, when the news of the departure of one who had become the favorite of many lovers of poetry in America reached this country, they felt, as an anonymous critic calling himself "A. M." expressed in an article in the Southern Literary Messenger,1 that they "had lost a dear friend, or rather a revered parent, whose being taken away is our loss but his gain."

The death of the poet called forth from American magazines many reminiscences of Wordsworth, detailed reviews of his life, and a manifestation on the part of the public of a deepened interest in his writings. This interest was further indicated by the fact that in 1850- 51 more editions of Wordsworth's works were published than in any two years previous to 1850. Space does not permit me to note all of the eulogies appearing in American magazines during these years, but enough will be

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1
XVI ( August, 1850), 474.

-154-

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