1871 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Thelwall

S. C. Hall, in A Book of Memories: Great Men and Women of the Age, from personal Acquaintance (1871) 64.



Among the friends of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Lamb at the close of the last century was JOHN THELWALL, who had been tried for high treason, in 1794, with Hardy and Home Tooke. I knew him in 1816, in Bristol, while I was spending my school holidays there. He was delivering lectures on Elocution in that city. I recall him as a man of small and delicate form, but of remarkable energy, though aged then; in person small, compact, muscular, with a head denoting indomitable resolution, and features deeply furrowed by ardent workings of the mind. He had lost his teeth, which dental surgery at that day could not replace; yet he spoke with much point and fervour, and was singularly graceful in movement — having the aspect and manner of a perfect gentleman, although brought up at "a tailor's board" — as he stood and addressed the audience, habited in pantaloons, the fashion of the period, and a short coat of a make then novel. Wordsworth, who knew and respected him, described him as "a man of extraordinary talent, an affectionate husband, and a good father;" and adds — "Though brought up in the city at a tailor's board, he was truly sensible of the beauty of natural objects."