1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Chalkhill

Anonymous, in Retrospective Review 4 (1821) 231.



It is not easy to conceive, that a gentleman of his taste and talents, who enjoyed the friendship of Spenser, should wholly escape the panegryricks or censures of his contemporaries, and the industrious researches of poetical biographers. Had he been any thing more than a fictitious personage, honest Izaak would hardly have dismissed him with such a brief and unsatisfactory notice: "the narrative old man" would have treated us with some of the delightful garrulous details in which he has commemorated so many of his literary friends. The author of Thealma, the friend of Spenser, and a brother-angler, certainly deserved and would have received a much more ample allowance of biographical gossip. The conclusion appears to us inevitable, that Chalkhill was merely a nomme de guerre, like Peter Pindar or Barry Cornwall. — Whether Walton was himself the author of the poem before us may admit of more controversy: we are ourselves strongly convinced that he was, and we think any person who takes the trouble we have done in investigating the circumstances, and in comparing the Thealma with the acknowledged productions of Walton, will come to the same conclusion.