1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Babington Macaulay

Hannah More, May 1810; Life and Letters of Zachary Macaulay; Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 6:91.



I poke one line into Tom's vile scrawl to say that he goes on in the usual Pindaric style; much desultory reading, much sitting from bower to bower; Spenser, I think, is the favourite poet to-day. As his time is short, and health, I think, the chief object just now, I have not insisted on much system. He read in the sun yesterday and got a little headache. Since Childe Hugh, a long poem on Hunt's election, really a good parody, has been shown us, I have discovered in the writing-box an Epithalamium of many pages on Mr. Sprague's marriage. I do compel him to read two or three scenes of Metastasio every day, and he seems to like it. His talents are very extraordinary and various, and his acquirements wonderful at his age. His temper is good, and his vivacity a great recommendation to me, but this excess of animal spirits makes some certain subjects seem a little dry and dull. I will tell you honestly as a true friend, what indeed you know already and mentioned to me, that his superiority of talents makes competitors necessary for him, for that he is a little inclined to under-value those who are not considerable or distinguished in some way or other. I have talked to him gently on the subject, telling him how valuable and worthy people may be who are neither brilliant in talent nor high in situation.