July 31 1814: Panopticon

Read Bentham’s ” Panopticon ” and first Appendix. All that respected the moral economy of his plan interested me greatly, but for want of plates I could not comprehend the mechanical structure. The book is (as all Bentham’s are) full of original and very valuable matter. But it would possibly have had more effect if it had contained fewer novelties in substance and in language. Men are prepared to oppose when novelty is ostentatiously announced.

.— By Henry Crabb Robinson, July 31 1814. Continue reading

July 30 1814: Tour Arrives at Boulogne

On July 30 1814, Mary, Jane and Shelley are still in Calais. They leave in the afternoon to escape Mrs. Godwin who has come to retrieve her daughter Jane but without success. Jane appears to have met with her mother, promised to leave with her, and then left with Mary and Shelley. Mary describes the day, but leaving out the family drama, in the History of a Six Weeks’ Tours. They travel as far as Boulogne (Image above.)  Continue reading

July 29 1814: William Wordsworth’s The Excursion

On July 29 1814, or thereabout, the authorities differ, William Wordsworth’s poem The Excursion is published in quarto form. Juliet Barker writes, in her biography of Wordsworth, that the first copies of The Excursion were released during the second week of August. On July 29 Wordsworth is travelling in Scotland with his family having left on July 18 (Barker, page 324). Wordsworth had to have completed the text for the poem sometime before. In fact, the poem itself goes back years.

Wordsworth dedicates the poem to his patron the Earl of Lonsdale. He had secured for Wordsworth him in March 1813 an appointment as Distributor of Stamps for the County of Westmoreland. The poem includes a dedicatory Sonnet dated July 29 1814 and a Preface that explains Wordsworth’s detailed poetic plan. Continue reading

July 28 1814: Escape to France


On July 28 1814, Mary Godwin and Percy Shelley secretly flee to France accompanied by Mary’s stepsister Jane, later known as Claire Clairmont. Mary and Jane are sixteen. Shelley is married and twenty-one.The three make their escape from William Godwin’s home in a coach at 4:15 a.m. They arrive at Dover and cross the channel to Calais. William Godwin remains in London but Mrs. Godwin pursues them to Calais “through heat and storm.” There she is tricked and the three make their escape. William Godwin wrote a letter to John Taylor where he describes what happened.

Continue reading

July 27 1814: Questions About Patrick Henry

On July 27 1814 William Wirt, in Richmond, writes to Thomas Jefferson to ask him for some information for his biography on the life of Patrick Henry.

Dear Sir. – The summer vacation of our courts, gives me an opportunity of taking up the materials which I have been for several years collecting for a life of Patrick Henry, and seeing what I could make of them. Will you have the goodness to excuse the following questions suggested, in a great degree, by a comparison of the communication you were so kind as to make, with others, from different quarters. Continue reading