1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Fuller

Anonymous, in Retrospective Review 3 (1821) 51.



With Fuller, a quotation always tells: learning with him was considered as a sort of mortar to strengthen, interlace, and support his own intellectual speculations, to fill up the interstices of argument, and conjoin and knit together the corresponding masses of thought; not as a sort of plaster to be super-induced over the original products of his mind, till their character and peculiarities were lost amid the integuments which enveloped them. So well does he vary his treasures of memory and observation, so judiciously does he interweave his anecdotes, quotations, and remarks, that it is impossible to conceive a more delightful chequer-work of acute thought and apposite illustration, of original and extracted sentiment, than is presented in his works. As a story-teller, he was most consummately felicitous. The relation which we have seen for the hundredth time, when introduced in his productions, assumes all the freshness of novelty, and comes out of his hands instinct with fresh life and glowing with vitality and spirit. The stalest jest, the most hackneyed circumstance, the repetition of which by another would only provoke our nausea, when adopted by him, receives a redintegration of essence not less miraculous than the conversion of dry bones into living beings. Whenever we dip in his works we are certain to meet with some narrated incident or apothegm to detain us, and we are insensibly led on from anecdote to anecdote, and from witticism to witticism, without the power to put the book upon the shelf again. How delightful must have been the conversation of Fuller, varied as it was with exuberance of knowledge, enlivened with gossiping, chastened by good sense, and sparkling with epigrammatical sharpness of wit, decorated with all its native fantastical embroidery of humorous quaintness. We verily declare for ourselves, that if we had the power or resuscitating an individual from the dead to enjoy the pleasure of his conversation, we do not know any one on whom our choice would sooner fall than Fuller.