1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Kirke Paulding

Anonymous, in Review of Specimens of American Poets; Edinburgh Literary Journal (8 August 1829) 131.



Mr. J. K. Paulding has attained considerable literary celebrity in America, but we believe he is more appreciated as a prose writer than as a poet, being one of the editors and principal contributors to Salmagundi, a clever work, in which Washington Irving first came before the public. An anonymous American writer, after complimenting Paulding on his abilities, when exercised in their proper sphere, asks,—

Why is he sipping weak Castalian dews?
The Muse has damn'd him — let him damn the Muse!

Paulding's style is rough and harsh, but full of shrewd sense and careless humour. He is a thorough democrat, and as such affects to despise what is polished and courtly. His longest poem is entitled "The Backwoodsman," and is much smoother than his general writings. It is in heroic verse, and frequently combines the terseness of Pope with the fine flow of Goldsmith. But Paulding, nevertheless, strikes us as only a third or fourth-rate genius.