1858 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Erasmus Darwin

Cyrus Redding, in Fifty Years' Recollections (1858) 1:67-68.



I was so pleased with passages in Darwin's poetical works, when young, that I retained them in memory. His prophecy in regard to steam-vessels was singular in its verification. His writings were put down by the wits of the Anti-Jacobin, not for their demerits, but from his unfashionable politics. This figure in Darwin much struck my youthful fancy:

Thus charmed to sweet repose when twilight hours,
Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers,
The cherub innocence with smile divine
Shuts his white wings, and sleeps on beauty's shrine.

Many and varied were the snatches of byegone verse treasured in my youth, in rambles over waste, and through wood and vale. In lonely hours, thoughtful, companionless, it was then I used to fix, or rather, such quotations became fixed in my mind, by continual repetition. Gray was one of my favourites, from whom I culled fragments, and the same with Milton, Pope and others. How fresh-coloured, even through the dimness of years, is the recollection of the localities where I thus beguiled many solitary moments.