1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Charles Abraham Elton

John Scott, in Review of Elton, The Brothers, a Monody; London Magazine 2 (September 1820) 311-12.



Mr. Elton's several publications, previous to the present, bore the stamp of elegant leisure, and a real inclination towards the subjects of which he treated. They were evidently the fruits of his favourite studies; the exercises of a mind familiar with pure models, yet accustomed to contemplate the sources of beauty for itself, and proud to recognize the independence of genius. From the morsels of criticism, and incidental observations of a critical nature, interspersed amongst his poetical compositions, we are induced to believe him to be free and courageous in his poetical creed — emancipated in spirit from the slavish rules of vulgar critics, and inclined to hail, with kindred magnanimity, the enterprises of talent, and the fresh attempts of original minds. Yet Mr. Elton's notions on the subject of poetry seem to be quite free from the cant and affectation of independence and originality: he does not court extravagance in an ambition to be thought forcible, nor outrage common sense in straining after what is remarkable or new. In short, we have always considered him, on the evidence of his works, a fine-minded scholar, poet, and gentleman; — with a sense of beauty sufficiently true t cause him to avoid and dislike exaggeration; sound and correct in sentiment as well as susceptible in feeling; — one who, in these strange, wild times, has an understanding and a taste happily regulated and tempered, so as to honour the novel energies of the period, without losing sight of the limitations and constraints necessary at once for the order and safety of society, and the last polish of the highest achievements of art.