1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Gates Percival

Anonymous, in Review of Miscellaneous Poems selected from the United States Literary Gazette; North American Review [Boston] 22 (April 1826) 436-37.



He has copiousness, we may say exuberance, both of matter and words; a rich and excursive imagination, which delights to revel amid gorgeous and airy forms of beauty; and often throws off lines of great vigor and sweetness. He has happy moments of inspiration, and with more labor of revision, with greater willingness to reject what serves only to embarrass the sense, and more care in selecting from the wilderness of "thick coming fancies" only what is adapted to his purpose, he might exert a magic influence over our hearts. His narratives are apt to be overloaded or perplexed. The consequence is, the attention is encumbered or distracted, and the impression weakened. His contributions to this volume, as well as his other works, bear the stamp of true genius, but show too frequent marks of carelessness in the execution.

After all, Mr. Percival's poetry is of a fascinating character. Amid his negligent versification, his wildness and redundance, he has strains of surpassing beauty. The pieces he has contributed to the present collection bear the characteristic of his genius, though they are not chargeable with all the faults, which disfigure some of his larger productions. Several of them are lofty and beautiful creations.