1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen

John Hamilton Reynolds, in "Living Authors, a Dream" Edinburgh Magazine NS 7 (August 1820) 140.



There was the Honourable Mr. Spencer with a goblet lent him by Lady Elizabeth Mug, — and Hayley, simpering and bowing, and reaching with a tea-cup at the water, — and Bowles, laboriously filling fourteen nutshells, — and Lewis, pompously, mysteriously, and solemnly plunging an old skull in the brook, — and Admiralty Croker swimming a little cock-boat, "by order of the Board," — and innumerable ragged young gentlemen fussing, and fuming, and fidgeting, with leaves of the Gentleman's Magazine in their hands, and all to no purpose! Poor Cottle was all abroad; and an obscure youth, of the name of Wiffin, was lost in a maze of bad grammar. There seemed now no encouraging signs in the elements, — no delightful sounds of attending spirits, — no springing up of flowers to cheer these worthies in their pursuits. They were satisfied with their own greatness, and flattered into bustle by their own vanities. I could only hear Folly shaking the bells of her cap to encourage them on. The continual activity of tongues soon fatigued me, and I turned myself from them to look again upon the Spirit. She had put off her bedimming veil, and stood before me bright with excessive beauty. One glance of her eye scared the silly multitude from the brook, — and she ascended into the silent heavens. There, to my astonished and delighted eyes, appeared Shakespeare, surrounded with light, with Spenser on the one hand and Milton on the other, and with the best of our early poets thronging around him. Amidst unearthly music he received the Spirit, — and they became all lost in light!