1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. George Crabbe

Anonymous, in Review of Crabbe, Tales of the Hall; Blackwood's Magazine 5 (July1819) 471.



Of all men of this age, he is the best portrait-painter. He is never contented with a single flowing sketch of a character — they must all be drawn full-length — the the very life — and with all their most minute and characteristic features even of dress and manners. He seems to have known them all personally; and when he describes them, he does so as if he thought that he would be guilty of a kind of falsehood, in omitting the description of a single peculiarity. Accordingly, to make the picture in all things a perfect likeness, he very often enters into details that weary, nay, even disgust — and not unfrequently a character is forced, obtruded as it were, on our acquaintance, of whose disagreeable existence we were before happily ignorant. His observation of men and manners has been so extensive and so minute, that his power of raising up living characters is wholly without limitation; and Mr. Crabbe has thrown open a gallery, in which single portraits and groupes of figures follow each other in endless procession, habited in all the varieties of dress that distinguish the professions, orders, and occupations of the whole of human society.