1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen

Bernard Barton to William Jerdan, 26 February 1820; Autobiography of William Jerdan (1852-53) 3:116.



Wiffen's Aonian Hours does not, to my view, solve the question [of how to write Quaker poetry]. I knew very well, before I read that volume, that a Quaker might be a poet, if he divested himself of his Quakerism, and wrote in the style of a popular poet. I am not now finding fault with my friend Wiffen, for I was pleased with his book; but it does not determine the compatibility of Poetry and Quakerism to my satisfaction. There is not a little in it, particularly his excessive admiration of Lord Byron, which many a Quaker would be alarmed at. But I am inclined to think poetry may be composed with strict consistency, and by no means in opposition to the spirit of our code — and yet not be exclusively religious.