1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Keats

Anonymous, in Review of Keats, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems; British Critic NS 14 (1820) 257-58.



If there be one person in the present day, for whom we feel an especial contempt, it is Mr. Examiner Hunt; and we confess that it is not easy for use to bring our minds to entertain respect for any one whose taste, whether in morals, in poetry, or politics, is so exceedingly corrupt as that person's must be supposed to be, who is willing to take such a man for his model. It was for this reason that Mr. Keats fell under our lash, so severely, upon the occasion of his poem of Endymion. Upon recurring to the poem, we are not unwilling to admit, that it possesses more merit, than upon a first perusal of it we were able to perceive, or rather than we were in a frame of mind to appreciate. We can hardly doubt as to that poem having been corrected by our modern Malvolio, and projected by his advice and under his superintendence; — so full was it, of all the peculiarities of that ingenious gentleman's ideas. The effect of this upon Mr. Keats's poetry, was like an infusion of ipecacuanha powder in a dish of marmalade. It created such a sickness and nausea, that the mind felt little inclination to analyse the mixture produced, and to consider, whether after all, the dose might not have been mixed with some ingredients that were in themselves agreeable. In the poems before us, the same obstacle to a dispassionate judgment, is still to be encountered — not perhaps to so great a degree, as upon the former occasion, but still in such a degree, as to reflect great praise, we think, upon our impartiality for the commendation which we feel willing to bestow.