1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bernard Barton

Anonymous, in Review of Barton, Napoleon, and other Poems; Gentleman's Magazine 92 (May 1822) 435.



From these specimens of Mr. Barton's Muse, it is probable that he could have written neither Manfred, nor Don Juan; nor would it have comported with the colour of his cloth, nor the breadth of his beaver, to have done it, if he could. But in the earlier annals of our career as public Journalists, before Queen Mabs or Cain's were considered necessary stimulants, especially for the youthful and susceptible readers of poetry, Mr. Barton would have been considered a Poet who could appeal most simply and most profitably to the guileless heart and the unphilosophical head. We do not say that some formality and insipidity might not occasionally be the result; but we hesitate not to assert, that we are no gainers on the whole by all the monstrosities (if we may use such a word) of imagination, and contortions of passion, on which it has of late years been fashionable to rely. Some fancy, some imagination, some feeling, are essential in poetry; but the two former ought to be pure, the latter natural and simple; and if plain common sense be combined, and a vein of quiet, sober reflection, at times leading to devotional contemplation, be superadded (as in the Volume now under review), our beau ideal of a poet of the true old English school is made out.