1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hookham Frere

Mrs. John Davy, 1831; Lockhart, Life of Scott (1837-38, 1902) 5:383-84.



On joining us in the drawing-room after dinner, Sir Walter was very animated, spoke much of Mr. Frere, and of his remarkable success, when quite a boy, in the translation of a Saxon ballad. This led him to ballads in general, and he greatly lamented his friend Mr. Frere's heresy in not esteeming highly enough that of Hardyknute. He admitted that it was not a veritable old ballad, but "just old enough," and a noble illustration of the best style. In speaking of Mr. Frere's translations, he repeated a pretty long passage from his version of one of the Romances of the Cid (published in the Appendix to Southey's quarto), and seemed to enjoy a spirited charge of the knights therein described, as much as he could have done in his best days, placing his walking-stick in rest like a lance, to "suit the action to the word." Miss Scott says she has not seen him so animated, so like himself, since he came to Malta, as on this evening.