1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Chalmers

Leigh Hunt, in The Reflector 2 (1811) 374.



Mr. Chalmers is a well-meaning bookmaker, who has studied Dr. Johnson enough to imitate the level speaking of his style, and upon the strength of a few inversions and fluent sentences, thinks himself qualified, like Johnson, to substitute assertion for criticism. But Johnson's assertions, even in his most dictatorial moments, strike us as the result of strong criticism indolently kept back; whereas Mr. Chalmers talks with a gratuitous good-nature and want of thinking, and bestows praises like a lad who has just become acquainted with Blair's Lectures. The talent of Mr. Chalmers lies in the detail of little facts. He discusses anachronisms with great impartiality, and is a lively hand at a parish-register: but he has no more right to say who, and who are not, the English Poets, than he has to tell us who are the worthiest characters in the Moon.