1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Cunningham

John Gibson Lockhart, in Review of Southey, Lives of Uneducated Poets; Quarterly Review 44 (January 1831) 82.



Mr. Allan Cunningham needs no testimony either to his intellectual accomplishments or his moral worth; nor, thanks to his own virtuous diligence, does he need any patronage. He has been fortunate enough to secure a respectable establishment in the studio of a great artist, who is not less good than great, and would thus be sufficiently in the eye of the world, even were his literary talents less industriously exercised than they have hitherto been. His recent Lives of the British Painters and Sculptors form one of the most agreeable books in the language; and it will always remain one of the most remarkable and delightful facts in the history of letters, that such a work — one conveying so much valuable knowledge in a style so unaffectedly attractive — so imbued throughout, not only with lively sensibility, amiable feelings, honesty and candour, but mature and liberal taste, was produced by a man who, some twenty years before, earned his daily bread as a common stone-mason in the wilds of Nithsdale. Examples like these will plead the cause of struggling genius, wherever it may be found, more powerfully than all the arguments in the world.