1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

Anonymous, in "Absurdities: Wordsworth" The Ordeal [Boston] (14 January 1809) 29.



The poetry of Darwin, Southey, Della Crusca, and their whole train of copyists, has been most successfully ridiculed by Mr. Gifford, Mr. Canning and other criticks, who undertook, about ten years ago, to wield the weapons of satire, against all those notions of affected sensibility in morals and visionary systems in the laws of nature, which the above mentioned writers aimed to inculcate. Since their literary dissolution, Mr. Wordsworth has attracted a crowd of admirers for some metrical peculiarities and childish conceits. Yet he has such an evidence of better understanding amidst all his silliness, as induces the belief of his willingness to establish a ridiculous taste, not because he supposed it accurate, but to gratify some favourite propensity or whim. The writings of Dr. Darwin and Mr. Southey contained such plausible and fascinating diction, that their absurdities could be best exposed by Parody; but in order to show the defects of Mr. Wordsworth, it is only necessary to separate them from the beauties with which they are frequently accompanied, and the reader will be astonished, that his admiration for the author had ever been excited. As Mr. Wordsworth's poetry has been the theme of panegyrick in the politer circles in America, and as the taste of the boarding-school miss may easily be perverted by the perusal of the whole of the gentleman's compositions, we think we render some service to the publick, when we produce some of his peculiarities as subjects for reprobation. The following extracts are form his "Poems." His "Lyrical Ballads we may take another occasion to examine.