1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Lamb

John Wilson, et. al., in Blackwood's Magazine (April 1822); Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:170.



BULLER. Taylor and Hessey's [London] Magazine — is it better [than Campbell's New Monthly Magazine]?

TICKLER. Sometimes much better, and often much worse. Elia in his happiest moods delights me; he is a fine soul; but when he is dull, his dulness sets human stupidity at defiance. He is like a well-bred, ill-trained pointer. He has a fine nose, but he won't or can't range. He keeps always close to your foot, and then he points larks and titmice. You see him snuffing and smoking and brandishing his tail with the most impassioned enthusiasm, and then drawn round into a semicircle he stands beautifully — dead set. You expect a burst of partridges, or a towering cock-pheasant, when lo, and behold, away flits a lark, or you discover a mouse's nest, or there is absolutely nothing at all. Perhaps a shrew has been there the day before. Yet if Elia were mine, I would not part with him, for all his faults.