1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Nichols

William Hazlitt, in "The Periodical Press" Edinburgh Review 38 (May 1823) 369-70.



For the GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE we profess an affection. We like the name, we like the title of the Editor, (Mr. Sylvanus Urban — what a rustic civility is there in it!) — we like the frontispiece of St. John's Gate — a well-preserved piece of useless antiquity, an emblem of the work — we like the table of contents, which promises no more than it performs. There we are sure of finding the last lingering remains of a former age, with the embryo productions of the new — some nine days' wonder, some forlorn "Hic jacet" — all that is forgotten, or soon to be so — an alligator stuffed, a mermaid, an Egyptian mummy — South-sea inventions, or the last improvement on the spinning-jenny — an epitaph in Pancras Churchyard, the head of Memnon, Lord Byron's Farewell, a Charade by a Young Lady, and Dr Johnson's dispute with Osborn the bookseller! Oh! happy mixture of indolence and study, of order and disorder! Who, with the Gentleman's Magazine held carelessly in his hand, has not passed minutes, hours, days, in lackadaisical triumph over ennui! Who has not taken it up on parlour window-seats? Who has not ran it slightly through in reading-rooms? If it has its faults, they are those of an agreeable old age; and we could almost wish some ill to those who can say any harm of it.