1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe

Walter Scott, 20 November 1825; Lockhart, Life of Scott (1837-38; 1902) 4:373-74.



Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe is another very remarkable man. He was bred for a clergyman, but never took orders. He has infinite wit and a great turn for antiquarian lore, as the publications of Kirkton, etc., bear witness. His drawings are the most fanciful and droll imaginable — a mixture between Hogarth and some of those foreign masters who painted temptations of St. Anthony, and such grotesque subjects. As a poet he has not a very strong touch. Strange that his finger-ends can describe so well what he cannot bring out clearly and firmly in words. If he were to make drawing a resource, it might raise him a large income. But though a lover of antiquities, and, therefore, of expensive trifles, C. K. S. is too aristocratic to use his art to assist his purse. He is a very complete genealogist, and has made many detections in Douglas and other books on pedigree, which our nobles would do well to suppress if they had an opportunity. Strange that a man should be curious after scandal of centuries old! Not but Charles loves it fresh and fresh also, for being very much a fashionable man, he is always master of the reigning report, and he tells the anecdote with such gusto that there is no helping sympathizing with him — a peculiarity of voice adding not a little to the general effect. My idea is, that C. K. S., with his oddities, tastes, satire, and high aristocratic feelings, resembles Horace Walpole — perhaps in his person also, in a general way.