1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elegy XI. The Departed Friend.

Poems on Various Subjects. By John Thelwall. In Two Volumes.

John Thelwall


Edmund Spenser is twice mentioned by the famous radical orator. Not seen.

Critical Review: "Who or what Mr. Thelwall is, we know not; and are almost equally at a loss what to say about his productions. He has too much merit, to deserve any severe censure; too many defects, to vindicate us in giving an high degree of approbation. He professes to be unacquainted with classic literature, and his grammatical errors sufficiently shew it; yet, in some places, his genius has supplied the defects of education" 64 (October 1787) 290.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "John Thelwall, the political agitator, anatomist, lecturer on elocution, and curer of stammering, was born in London, 1764; tried, with John Horne Tooke and Thomas Hardy, for treason, and acquitted, 1794; died in Bath, 1834" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 3:2382.



"Accept, dear Phil, this rude, unskilful verse,
Tho' nor by Muse inspir'd, nor Grace refin'd,
Which I, in loose alternate rhime rehearse,
To soothe the sorrows of thy gentle mind.

"What, tho' no polish'd lines, like Pope's, appear,
No boldly-splendid thoughts my theme refine,
—Such as in Spenser's nobler page appear,
Or Collins, in thy strains majestic shine?

"I court not now the laurel'd wreath of Fame,
Or various praise of nervous, smooth, and clear.
Enough my honour, all I wish and claim,
If with my verse thy bosom I may cheer.

"Fair Friendship's voice shall breathe in ev'ry line
The faithful dictates of an honest heart:
Friendship alone inspir'd the fair design
To thee, these soothing verses to impart.

"No need is there of lofty Spenser's fire;
No need of tuneful Pope's energic art,
To strike, with trembling hand, a humble lyre,
And sing the genuine feelings of the heart.

"But if my numbers should offend thy ear,
Oh think they flow from an uneasy heart:
The voice of Anguish never can be clear,
And Melancholy mars the tuneful art.

[ll. 33-56; 2:120-21]