1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Margaret Oliphant, in The Literary History of England (1882) 1:393.



Henry Kirke White, who died in the beginning of the century, October 1806, at the age of twenty-one, a poor youth so far in advance of his age that he died of examinations and over-cramming, by the kind but injudicious hands of the college authorities of St. John's, Cambridge, where he had gained a sizorship. He was one of those saintly youths whose religious blameless lives will always be reverentially read by the simple public, and whose gentle, devotional verses charm and awe and touch, perhaps, a larger number of minds than are ever affected by the higher voices of poetry. An early volume of poetry, which he published at seventeen, received the honours of a kind of martyrdom from a bitter critic; and the consumptive and suffering young poet almost died of the cruel assault. Southey, always kind, was moved by this to an indignant championship of the dying youth, consoled him with tender praise, and afterwards published his little biography and innocent pious "Remains," which become dear to many a young and innocent reader.