1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Beattie

Anonymous, in Review of Beattie, Poetical Works, ed. Dyce; The Athenaeum (28 May 1831) 340.



James Beattie is one of those fortunate authors whose lot was cast in happy times, and his lines in pleasant places. His moderate vigour in prose, and his gentle warmth in poetry, suited the days when harmonious lines were ranked with those inspired — when polish was reckoned power; and the flights of the winged muse of Britain were as lowly as those of the peacock. The hour is long past in which vigorous verse would be publicly mistaken for "Beattie's wark," or a mild and a devout disquisition on the Immutability of Truth would be hailed as an answer and refutation of the searching Essays of Hume. "Leviathan is not so tamed!" Other reasons may be assigned for Beattie's popularity: a good, a kind, and pious king was on the throne, who confounded the desire to crush infidelity, and render religion triumphant, as the power to do both: he who mistook West for one of the mighty in art, might easily imagine Beattie a vigorous bard and a lofty philosopher: that His Majesty believed him both, the story of the Professor's life sufficiently proves.