Through the strange women clustering at the corners I took my way,--women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites,--and I thought, as I looked into their poor painted faces,--faces but half human, vampirish faces, faces already waxen with the look of the grave,--I thought, as I often did, of the poor little girl whom De Quincey
loved, the good-hearted little `peripatetic' as he called her, who had succoured him during those nights, when, as a young man, he wandered homeless about these very streets,--that good, kind little Ann whom De Quincey
had loved, then so strangely lost, and for whose face he looked into women's faces as long as he lived.
You remember that exquisite description in De Quincey, Mr.
"But I do read De Quincey," Ralph protested, "more than Belloc and Chesterton, anyhow."
I am delighted to meet anyone who reads De Quincey."
Holmes, stray volumes of De Quincey
, and here and there minor works of Thackeray.
Long ago De Quincey
noted it as a strongly determinant fact in Wordsworth's literary career, pointing, at the same time, to his remarkable good luck also, on the material side of life.
I glanced over them, noting with astonishment such names as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Poe, and De Quincey
. There were scientific works, too, among which were represented men such as Tyndall, Proctor, and Darwin.
Nothing greatly original had resulted from these measures; and the effects of the opium had convinced him that there was an entire dissimilarity between his constitution and De Quincey
(1778-1830), a romantically dogmatic but sympathetically appreciative critic; Thomas de Quincey
(1785-1859), a capricious and voluminous author, master of a poetic prose style, best known for his 'Confessions of an English Opium-Eater'; Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), the best nineteenth century English representative, both in prose and in lyric verse, of the pure classical spirit, though his own temperament was violently romantic; Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866), author of some delightful satirical and humorous novels, of which 'Maid Marian' anticipated 'Ivanhoe'; and Miss Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855), among whose charming prose sketches of country life 'Our Village' is best and best-known.
At the passage which I have marked, you will find that when De Quincey
had committed what he calls "a debauch of opium," he either went to the gallery at the Opera to enjoy the music, or he wandered about the London markets on Saturday night, and interested himself in observing all the little shifts and bargainings of the poor in providing their Sunday's dinner.
The habit grew upon him, as I understand, from some foolish freak when he was at college; for having read De Quincey
's description of his dreams and sensations, he had drenched his tobacco with laudanum in an attempt to produce the same effects.
Hannah de Quincey
, who is a professional theatre director and founder of Moonstruck Astronaut drama company, will be leading the workshops.