1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Godwin

Anonymous, in Review of Godwin, Mandeville; New England Galaxy [Boston] 1 (20 March 1818).



The name of William Godwin is familiar to the majority of readers. Few living writers have been so often and so long the theme, both of ridicule and applause, of dislike and admiration; and fewer still have had the good fortune to extort, even from adversaries, the praise of always meaning well. We have never heard that the purity of his motives has been impeached, whatever difference of opinion may have existed as to the tendency of his writings. Those who have seen, or who thought they had seen, in his productions, disorganizing political principles, the speculations of infidelity, and the whims of an absurd philosophy, have not, to our knowledge, denied that they were the effusions of an unshackled, unprejudiced, and independent mind. His works of fancy and fiction may not unaptly be characterized by the language in which he has described the heroine of his last work. There is in them "a charm against which no human bosom can be shut." They "hold an empire over the soul that no mortal perverseness can limit; they cast down all the entrenchments and bastions" which prejudices and passion has set up against them, and "enter with triumphant wheels the fortress of the heart."