1901 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Cornelius Webbe

H. Buxton Forman, in Works of Keats (1901) 4:41-42n.



The late Mr. Dykes Campbell had a copy of Keats's Poems (1817) with an inscription believed to be in Cornelius Webb's writing: — "This Book was given me by John Keats himself when published in 1817, he living at the time in lodgings near the Poultry of all places in the world for a descriptive poet!"

Cornelius Webb says in the preface to his Lyric Leaves (Griffiths, 1832) that the poems were produced in the years 1817 to 1820, and that some of them were printed in two small tracts for private circulation, while others appeared in periodicals. Mr. Colvin mentions a volume published by the Olliers in 1821, containing, inter alia, an Invocation to Sleep. That poem appears in the Lyric Leaves with the date "Jan. 31, 1817." This little volume is not by any means without merit or charm; but Webb did not rise in literature. He says in 1832 that after 1820 he was "forced from poetry by discouragements sufficient enough for the time to compel him to abandon his humble muse." He is said to have become a reader in the printing house of Clowes, and revised in that capacity The Quarterly Review as it passed through the press. He published in 1836 Glances at Life in City and Suburb, on the title-page of which he is described as "Cornelius Webbe [with an "e"], author of the Posthumous Papers of a Person lately about Town; Lyric Leaves, etc." In 1838 followed two volumes of Essays entitled The Man about Town, some of which are pleasant enough in a light way, and were reprinted in 1857 under the title of The Absent Man. A second series of Glances at Life appeared in 1848. This was meant to have included a paper which Webb, according to a letter in my possession addressed by him to Messrs. Smith, Elder, & Co., had written about Keats; but no such paper is in the volume. His ephemeral books got tolerant reviews in the Quarterly.