1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Beck

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Review of Beck, Poetical Amusements; The Monthly Review 60 (November 1809) 323-24.



Mr. Beck is a pleasing and instructive moralist; and though he never attempts any flights of sublimity, he gives importance and interest to familiar subjects by the propriety of his reflections, the appositeness of his examples, and the truth and force of his descriptions. His style is peculiar, and rather nervous than harmonious; each of his poems would perhaps furnish subjects for an Essay, but not one of them could ever be converted into an Opera-Song. We prefer his "Miscellaneous Poems" to the longer "Moral Tales," and the allegory of "Fortune and her six Boxes" is moral and ingenious. The two poems on "Smiles" and "Frowns" have also smartness and originality; the "Point of Identity," and the lines suggested by a foggy walk, are written with considerable humour; and the "Samples of Sonnets" have the pleasantry without the personality of Peter Pindar's burlesque compositions. "The Monthly Memorial" is the only poem that is unworthy of the collection in which it is placed: the ideas are as trite as the subject; and twenty minor poets have written stanzas on the months of the year, which equalled these in merit.