1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bryan Waller Procter

Thomas Love Peacock to Percy Bysshe Shelley, 4 December 1820; T. L. Peacock, ed. Richard Garnett (1910) 90.



Considering poetical reputation as a prize to be obtained by a certain species of exertion, and that the sort of thing which obtained this prize is the drivelling doggerel published under the name of "Barry Cornwall," I think but one conclusion possible — that to a rational ambition poetical reputation is not only not to be desired, but most earnestly to be depreciated. The truth, I am convinced, is, that there is no longer a poetical audience among the higher class of minds; that moral, political, and physical science have entirely withdrawn from poetry the attention of all whose attention is worth having; and that the poetical reading public, being composed of the mere dregs of the intellectual community, the most sufficing passport to their favor must rest on the mixture of a little easily-intelligible portion of mawkish sentiment, with an absolute negation of reason and knowledge. These I take to be the prime and sole elements of Mr. Barry Cornwall's "Madrigals."