1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Payne Collier

Anonymous, Review of Collier, The Poet's Pilgrimage; The Literary Chronicle 7 (2 July 1825) 427.



An accidental circumstance is said to have led to the publication of the Poet's Pilgrimage; the author submitted it, in manuscript, to Mr. Charles Lamb, with a letter subscribed with his initials, requesting his opinion on its merits. Mr. Lamb thought it had come from Mr. Carey, the translator of Dante, and sent it to that gentleman in return, as he thought, with a letter, advising him to print it forthwith; an eclaircissement ensued, and Mr. Collier, flattered by the praise of a gentleman of Mr. Lamb's acumen, determined to follow the advice given, and sent the Poet's Pilgrimage into the world. We scarcely know whether to congratulate the author on his good fortune or not, as, whatever may be the merit of the poem, neither the subject nor the style are of an attractive nature. The Poet's Pilgrimage, as the author acknowledges, in a desultory sonnet to Mr. Lamb, —

Emulates the antique school;
Is written on that model, plan, and rule.

It is, in fact, an imitation of Spenser though only so far as regards the stanza, for the poem is original enough in other respects. The style and subject are, however, alike unpromising, and we suspect even Byron himself could never have made them popular. Mr. Collier, therefore, must not be surprised if his admirers are few, though they may be such as to give their admiration the highest value. We would gladly give an extract, but it is not easy to detach a few stanzas which unconnectedly, would be deemed interesting to our readers, or that would at all do justice to a poem which possesses much vigour, and displays a fine poetical imagination.