1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Aikin

Lucy Aikin, in Memoir of John Aikin (1823) 1:249-50.



It was a striking proof of the enlarged and philosophical spirit which had presided over Dr. Aikin's critical pursuits, that his mind always remained open to the claims of fresh candidates for literary fame. A new poet was to him like a new star in the horizon of the astronomer, and he rejoiced and triumphed in the brightness of its beams. Thus, no predilection for an earlier school of poetry, had prevented his doing full justice to that which owed its origin to the genius of Mr. Southey and Mr. Coleridge; and I have reason to believe that he availed himself of one of the most respectable sources of periodical criticism, to express his warm sense of the poetical productions of these gentlemen. With Mr. Southey he had afterwards much satisfaction in cultivating a personal acquaintance, and he entertained for him the true interest of a friend. I well remember, too, the eager delight with which he first caught the animated strains of the Lay of the Last Minstrel, which he used to characterize as the perfection of ballad poetry; and the high admiration, the deep though somewhat painful interest, with which he received the early cantos of Childe Harold.