1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Flecknoe

Anonymous, in Retrospective Review 5 (1822) 166-67.



The man who is once sealed, although undeservedly, with a bad name, must be contented to retain it for life; it fixes the eye, like a stain on a fair garment, and is as difficult to be obliterated. If an evil report be once but in circulation, his enemies confirm it, his friends have not moral courage to deny it, and strangers will not take the trouble to investigate its correctness. It is part of our design, however, to raise obscure worth — to rescue talent or ingenuity from unmerited obloquy, and to award the meed of praise to those, who, either from injustice or misfortune, have been improperly deprived of it; and it is a branch of our prerogative, in the exercise of which we feel peculiar pleasure. Not that we have any wish to canonize "anointed Dulness," nor to fill a conspicuous niche in the Temple of Fame with a statue of Richard Flecknoe; but we do feel a desire to mitigate the harshness with which he has been censured, and we think, with considerable confidence, that the extracts we shall make from these two small volumes [Enigmaticall Characters, Epigrams of all Sorts] will have that effect, and convince our readers, that he is not the contemptible scribler he has been generally represented; at least, that he could write, and has written, some things which merit praise, and ought to be preserved.