1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Pearse Gillies

William Wordsworth to Robert Pearse Gillies, 22 December 1814; Gillies, Memoirs of a Literary Veteran (1851) 151-52.



When your letter arrived I was in the act of reading to Mrs. Wordsworth your Exile, which pleased me more, I think, than anything that I have read of yours. There is, indeed, something of "mystification" about it, which does not enhance its value with me; but it is, I think, in many passages delightfully conceived and expressed. I was particularly charmed with the seventeenth stanza, first part. That is a passage which I shall often repeat to myself; and I assure you that, with the exception of Burns and Cowper, there is very little of recent verse, however much it may interest me, that sticks to my memory (I mean which I get by heart). The recommendation of your volume is, that it is elegant, sensitive, and harmonious, — a rare merit in these days; its defect, that it deals too much in pleasurable and melancholy generalities. But if you persevere your health of body, I am confident you will produce something in verse that will last.