1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Lady Anne Hamilton, in Epics of the Ton (1807) 9 & n.



Should'st thou, my lay, shine splendid as thy theme,
Like rushlights to thy sun, all bards should seem:
Then still might Southey sing his crazy Joan,
Or feign a Welshman o'er th' Atlantic flown,
Or tell of Thalaba the wondrous matter,
Or with clown Wordsworth chatter, chatter, chatter....

This man, the Blackmore of the age, if we look at the number of his Epics, might become its Dryden, if his fancy were chastened by judgment, and his taste cleansed from the maggots of the new school. But, mistaking facility of composition for inspiration, and imagining that to restrain the overwhelming flood of his versification would be to dam up the pure current of genius, his swoln torrent is likely to overflow for a while, and then subside into a very pitiable streamlet. But it is vain to admonish. — "Volvitur et volvetur" — alas! that we cannot add — "in omne volubilis aevum!"