1767 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Julius Mickle

Anonymous, Review of Mickle, The Concubine; Critical Review 23 (May 1767) 398-99.



A knight, as he was sauntering in the fields, is here supposed to meet a dairy maid.

Right plump she was, and ruddie glowd her cheek,
Her easie waiste in milchwhite boddice dight,
Her golden locks curld down her shoulders sleek,
And halfe her bosome heaving mett the sight:
And gayly she accosts the sober wight,
Freedom and glee blythe sparkling in her eye;
With wanton merrimake she trips the knight,
And round the younkling makes the clover flye:
But soon he starten up, more gamesome by and bye.

In consequence of this interview she become his concubine; and very soon afterwards the plague of his life. The effects of her superintendance are perceived about his house and gardens.

All round the borders where the pansie blue,
Crocus, and polyanthus powderd fine,
And daffodils in fayre confusion grew
Emong the rose-bush roots and eglantine;
These now their place to cabbages resign,
And tawdrie pease supply the lillys stead,
Rough artichokes now bristle where the vine
Its purple clusters round the windows spread,
And laisie cucumbers on dung recline the head.

The fragrant orchard at her dire command
In all the pride of blossome strewd the plain;
The hillocks gently rising through the land
Must now no trace of natures steps retain;
The clear canal, the mirrhour of the swain,
And bluish lake no more adorn the greene,
Two durty watering ponds alone remain;
And what ygoe the place of herbs had bene,
Is now a turnip fielde and cow yarde nothing cleane.

The poet describes at large the vexation and infamy which the knight sustained on account of this connection. The moral is obvious; the story simple; the stile a pretty imitation of Spenser's manner in the Faerie Queene.