1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hamilton Reynolds

Leigh Hunt, in "Peter Bell, a Lyrical Ballad" The Examiner (25 April 1819) 270.



There have been lately advertised two books, both Peter Bell by name: what stuff one of them was made of may be seen by the motto, — "I am the real Simon Pure." — This false Florimel has hurried from the press, and obtruded herself into public notice, while, for ought we know, the real one may be still wandering about woods and wilderness. Let us hope she may soon appear, and make good her right to the Magic Girdle.

The pamphleteering Archimage, we can perceive, has rather a splenetic love, than a downright hatred, to real Florimels; but he has, it seems, a fixed aversion to those three rising Graces, Alice Fell, Susan Gale, and Betty Foy; and now especially to Peter Bell, the fit Apollo.

It is plainly seen by one or two passages in this little skit, that the writer of it has felt the finer parts of Mr. WORDSWORTH'S poetry, and perhaps expatiated with his more remote and sublimer Muse. This, as far was it relates to Peter Bell, is unlucky: the more he may love the sad embroidery of the Excursion, the more will he hate the comic samples of Betty Foy and Alice Fell; and, as they come from the same hand, the better will he be able to imitate that which we see can be imitated, to wit, Peter Bell, as far as that hero can be imagined from his obstinate name. We repeat, it is very unlucky: this Simon Pure is in points the very man: there is such a pernicious likeness in the scenery, such a pestilent humour in the rhymes, and such an inveterate cadence in some of the stanzas. If we are one part amused with this, we are three parts sorry that any one who has any appearance of appreciating WORDSWORTH, should show so much temper at this really provoking name of Peter Bell.