1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe

John Gibson Lockhart, in "Clergy of Scotland" Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk (1819) 3:72-73.



A thousand proud, no less than pious recollections, are connected in Scottish minds, with that integrity of their ecclesiastical polity, which was the reward of the long sufferings and constancy of their fore-fathers — and with the persons of those whom they regard as the heirs and offspring of the principal actors in all the scenes of that eventful period. I have already said something of the attempts which were made to represent the first Tales of my Landlord as a series of wanton attacks upon the heroes of the Covenant, and insults against the presbyterian prejudices of the majority of the Scottish people. The best proof of the injustice and absurdity of these attempts, is their total failure. Had the Tale of Old Mortality been written in that spirit, it would not have taken its place, as it has already done, in the cottages of Scotland beside the "big ha' Bible," and the original rude histories of the seventeenth century. And if more proof were wanting, it would be found in the very different fate which has attended a work of much amusement, and no inconsiderable cleverness, written really and plainly in that spirit of scoffing and irreverence, which the author of these Novels never could have been capable of displaying — l mean Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe's Edition of Kirkton's History. Much may, no doubt, be pardoned in a descendant of the murdered archbishop — I speak not of the man, for whom there may be many apologies — but of his book, which cannot be anywise defended when considered per se — and which even the Quarterly Review will in vain endeavour to save from that utter neglect, which is at once the most just and the most severe punishment of all such offences against feelings in themselves respectable, and in their effects beneficial.