1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Grahame

Walter Scott, in "Living Poets" in Edinburgh Annual Register for 1808 (1810) 2:430.



Somewhat akin to Wordsworth in the train of his poetry, but beneath him in originality of genius, is JAMES GRAHAME, author of The Sabbath, and The Birds of Scotland. The most remarkable feature of his poetical character is his talent for describing Scottish scenery in a manner so true and lively as at once to bring the picture to the recollection of his countrymen. The ardent love of nature in which this power of description has its source, is uniformly combined with virtuous and amiable feeling. Accordingly, Mr. Grahame's poetry exhibits much of these qualities; but his religion has sometimes a tinge of fanaticism, and his views of society are more gloomy than the truth warrants. In his moral poetry he occasionally unites, with the nakedness of Wordsworth's diction, a flatness which is all his own. In his landscapes, on the other hand, he is always at home, and more fortunate than most of his contemporaries. He has the art of being minute without being confused, and circumstantial without being tedious. His Sabbath Walks are admirable specimens of this his principal excellence. But this is a vein capable of being exhausted, and it will be for the serious consideration of the Lord of the Manor, whether it has not been already sufficiently wrought out.