1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Lamb

Anonymous, in Review of Lamb, Album Verses; Edinburgh Literary Journal (10 July 1830) 25.



Charles Lamb has been overrated in many ways. He is a clever, but not a distinguished writer. He is far too full of conceits, and affectations, and quaint childishnesses. The papers which he wrote under the signature of "Elia," and which have been puffed by some of his literary friends much beyond their real merit, are continually disfigured with these faults. The style was somewhat new, and took at first, but, like other novelties which are not based upon good sense and sound canons of criticism, its popularity soon passed away; and Lamb's prose works are already nearly forgotten. As a poet, he was never greatly celebrated; and here, too, the sort of antique Cockneyism of his diction militates much against the natural warmth of his feelings and liveliness of his imagination. We have no doubt that Charles Lamb is an amiable man, and he is also something of a humourist, and he is, moreover, on many occasions, a shrewd ingenious thinker; but he ought to know that quaintness and simplicity, bordering on puerility, do not constitute either wit or poetry.