1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Howitt

George Gilfillan, in "James Montgomery" Second Gallery of Literary Portraits (1850) 323.



And how like is Mary Howitt to Bunyan! Like him, she is the most sublime of the simple, and the most simple of the sublime; the most literal and the most imaginative of writers. Hers and his are but a few quiet words: but they have the effect of "Open Sesame;" they conduct into deep caverns of feeling and of thought, to open which ten thousand mediocrists behind are bawling in vain. In Marien's Pilgrimage (thanks to the kind and gifted young friend who lately introduced us to this beautiful poem), we have a minor Pilgrim's Progress, where Christianity is represented as a child going forth on a mission to earth, mingling with and mitigating all its evils; and in left, at the close, still wandering on in this her high calling. The allegory is not, any more than in Bunyan, strictly preserved; for Marien is at once Christianity personified and a Christian person, who alludes to Scripture events, and talks in Scripture language; but the simplicity, the childlikeness, and the sweetness, are those of the gentle dreamer of Elstowe.