1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Margaret Holford

Walter Savage Landor to Margaret Holford, 1809 ca.; Forster, Landor, a Biography (1869) 194.



I am not surprised that the criticism [defending Wordsworth] stands higher in your estimation than in mine. It is evidently the composition of a zealous and indignant friend. The poems, in my opinion, are far above the necessity of any such defence. The attack was not only weak but wicked. Weak, because a man of genius must know, and common minds alone can be ignorant, what breadth of philosophy, what energy and intensity of thought, what insight into the heart, and what observation of nature, are requisite for the production of such poetry. Wicked, to behold such signal gifts not merely with disrespect, but with irreverence and malice. I am sorry to say it, there is as great a difference between our commendations and our censures as there is between a riding-school and a race-course, both in respect to latitude and animation. Still, indignation is not only the offspring but the parent of injustice, as regularly as the John Joneses in my parish are fathers and children of J. Joneses with a Jones ap John between. I will show it to be the case in this criticism on Mr. Wordsworth where there is often an outcry preceded by no wound, and a sarcasm accompanied by no wit. The charm of irony is always broken at the very first glance of anger.