1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

Robert Southey, in Review Hayley's Memoirs; Quarterly Review 31 (1824-25) 311.



It was his wish that, as he himself had endeavoured to render all the justice in his power to some of his most eminent contemporaries, so he might in his turn find an honest chronicler to sum up his merits and defects, and deduce from them useful literary and moral lessons. That wish has been faithfully performed by the editor of these Memoirs; and the judgment of that reader must be strangely warped by a censorious disposition who does not agree with him in admiring Hayley as a truly generous, and gentle-hearted man. His poetry has had its day and is forgotten; yet during that day it was so generally applauded, that a Collection of the English Poets would be incomplete without it. Some of his pieces may still be read with pleasure, not a few with advantage; and the tendency as well as the purport of all is such as left him nothing to repent of in retrospect. In those later productions, indeed, some of which have been adduced — the outpourings of an afflicted heart — there is a strain of thought and feeling, which will find sympathy and may afford consolation, and which entitles him to respect, both as a poet and a man.