1864 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Moultrie

Charles Knight, in Passages of a Working Life (1864) 1:287-88.



In the collected edition of Poems by John Moultrie, amongst the "Poems composed between the years 1818 and 1828," there are found those most touching and graphic lines which first gave assurance to the world of his rare qualities as a poet. My Brother's Grave is one of those outpourings of the heart that never fail to command human sympathy. The two longer poems in The Etonian, of Godiva, and Maimoune, are not reprinted in this collection. When, in 1837, Mr. Moultrie was looking back upon the productions of 1820, he might probably have considered that the occasional levities of the young student of nineteen might scarcely be deemed fit for republication by the clergyman of six-and-thirty. Yet it is to be regretted that those poems should not have been preserved, other than as a portion of a Miscellany now scarce and little known. The same minute and careful excisions which have been bestowed upon the long poem of Sir Launfal (the La Belle Tryamour of Knight's Quarterly Magazine) might have given these two productions a wider celebrity. The two or three fragments which are republished offer no adequate idea of the more than cleverness of these early poems. In the stanzas which tell the well-known story of the gentle lady of Coventry, there are passages of rare beauty, which may justly compete with theGodiva of Tennyson, written ten years afterwards. Maimoune is more unequal; and there are occasional licences in it which now would call up frowns from some, which might have been smiles forty years ago. But the author may justly claim never to have written a verse that was really corrupting, even in the unpruned luxuriance of his spring-time.