1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Timothy Dwight

Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 30 October 1822; Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 5:124-25.



The American books have arrived, and I am reading with much interest Dwight's Travels in his own country — a posthumous work. The author (whose unhappy name is Timothy) wrote in his youth some forty years ago, an heroic poem upon the Conquest of Canaan, which was puffed and reprinted in London. Its stilted versification was admired in those days, but it had little or no real merit. Dwight, however, though a bad poet, — because of a bad school, — was a sensible man; and kept a journal of his travels, and prepared it for publication, from a conviction that a faithful description of New England in all its parts, such as it then was, would in a few generations become exceedingly interesting, however unimportant it might appear if published as soon as it was written. A great deal of course is only interesting locally; but on the whole, the picture of what the country is, his fair views of the state of society then, with its advantages and disadvantages, and the number of curious facts which are brought together, make it very well worth reading. I would give a good deal to see as trustworthy and minute an account of the Southern States. This is just the sort of book which ought to be digested into a review.