1833 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Motherwell

Anonymous, in "Barry Cornwall, Motherwell, and Leigh Hunt" Fraser's Magazine 7 (February 1833) 211.



We are under great obligations to the publisher at Glasgow for the production of Mr. Motherwell's volume. Glasgow has already witnessed the first efforts of Lockhart, Wilson, and Campbell; and it has added to its wreath of desert by fostering the tuneful labours of the poet before us. He is already known as an occasional contributor to periodicals of various degrees, and for an admirable collection of the ancient ballads of Scotland. The pursuit and study of these specimens of quaint composition have given him a taste for matter of similar structure, and in the volume are to be seen some most happy instances of his art. In these the discrimination of the antiquarian, and the taste and pathos of the poet, are happily combined. He is well versed in the discipline of Scandinavian history. He has selected some heroic passages from the feats commemorated by the skalds, and has given them forth with a force and brilliant success sufficient to place him among the leading poets of the day. There is, alas! too ample room and verge for new poetical spirits to delight in, now that those masters of song, whose names are familiar to our youthful recollections, are passing away in gradual order to their eternal rest. Byron, Keats, Shelley, Crabbe, and Sir Walter Scott, are no more. Wordsworth is silent, though his eyes wander in daily admiration over scenes which in times of yore were wont to kindle his beating heart into inspiration; Southey cultivates the field of prose, in preference to that of poetry; Coleridge is involved in an eternal maze of metaphysics, and leads a life almost useless to the world, though his genius might illumine nations; Wilson seems to have bidden a long adieu to poetry. Thin and scanty are the numbers that remain. Mr. Motherwell may now take his stand among these latter ones, and they may be proud of such companionship.