1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Charles Hanbury Williams

Anonymous, in Review of Hanbury Williams, Works; The Literary Gazette (29 June 1822) 417.



The great difference of moral feeling, as far as licentiousness or decorousness of language indicates it, between the age of our early Comedy and the present, had not become so apparent by many degrees 70 or 80 years ago, when Sir Charles Hanbury figured as one of the gentlemen who write with ease. Still, however, he was a gross scribbler even for the second quarter of last century, and his coarse obscenity and profaneness were hardly tolerable at that period of indecent freedom and filthy wit. Delicate, refined, and virtuous, at least in all the externals of life, as is the standard at which this country has now happily arrived, those things which were at their concoction offensive in the author, are utterly unpardonable in his editor, and in the "eminent persons" to whose "generosity" (preface, vi.) he ascribes his having acquired the power of insulting the public with such a collection of beastly ribaldry as these volumes contain. It ought to be mentioned, that a disclaimer of any connivance in this publication, on the parts of the families of Bedford and Essex, has appeared in the newspapers; but as no explanation is given as to how the MSS. were obtained, and no prevention has been applied by the nobleman in whose possession the documents are asserted in the title-page to be, such a statement is as like one of the puffs to stimulate curiosity, which a low class of booksellers employ, as a positive proof that the editor has produced a worthless work, with the stamp of a direct falsehood upon its front.