1871 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Kibble Hervey

S. C. Hall, "Thomas Kebble Hervey" in A Book of Memories: Great Men and Women of the Age, from personal Acquaintance (1871) 426.



Another poet of the second class, who achieved a fair amount of popularity, was T. K. HERVEY. His poem of the "Convict Ship" was a production of considerable merit; and among his lyrics, there are many of much sweetness and beauty. He was for several years editor of the Athenaeum, a post in which he was succeeded by Mr. Hepworth Dixon. Nature had not been to the poet lavish of personal gifts. A "plainer" man was never inspired by the Muse. There is not much to say of him that it would be agreeable to say. His widow is an excellent writer of poems, some of which merit high places. Moreover, she is a very admirable lady, estimable in all the relations of life.

He died in February, 1859. Of late he wrote much for the Art-Journal, and all my transactions with him were entirely satisfactory. His mind was largely stored; he wrote with much graceful facility; and, as a critic, his judgment was generally sound and just.

If I must place him below the great "makers," whose names precede his in this volume, I must class him above the host of minor poets, of whom our age has been so amazingly fertile. Some of his productions, indeed, verge upon the higher standard; and none of them are much beneath it.

His imagination was rich and vigorous; and his versification exceedingly easy and graceful. He avoided the error into which so many of his contemporaries have fallen — the effort to be effective by the sacrifice of nature, under the idea that the artificialities and affectations of the old poets were the secrets of their success, forgetting that imitation is always perilous, and that it is far less easy to copy perfections than defects.

He was the editor of a work that did much good — "Illustrations of Modern Sculpture," each subject being introduced by a poem from his pen. It was one of the earlier "helps" to render British sculpture popular. He lived to see that art, so long depressed in England, attain a degree of prosperity which he hoped for, rather than expected.