‘I Was Worshipped; I Was Sacrificed’
Thomas De Quincey moved with great fluency between several different prose registers, from the humorous to the senti-mental, the reportorial to the satiric, the conversational to the suspenseful, the rambunctious to the refined. He wrote a good deal of literary criticism, much of which was informed by his readings of and conversations with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. As a scholar, De Quincey has frequently been maligned as a plagiarist, hack, charlatan, and bore who 'read extensively and thought acutely by fits, wrote a few pages which revealed new capacities in the language, and provided a good deal of respectable padding for magazines'. De Quincey's 'many works of a scholarly or intellectual nature are almost all derived in the most direct way from printed sources, and in almost every case from a single volume. He biographical essays on Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Robert Southey are magazine articles par excellence.