1801
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Fairy of the Lake.

Poems written chiefly in Retirement. The Fairy of the Lake, a Dramatic Romance; Effusions of social and relative Feeling: and Specimens of The Hope of Albion; or Edwin of Northumbria: an Epic Poem. By John Thelwall: with a Prefatory Memoir of the Life of the Author; and Notes and illustrations of Runic Mythology.

John Thelwall


John Thelwall writes after Comus, with the supernatural bits taken from Shakespeare. Thelwall, who later made his living as a teacher of oratory, is a good example of an "untutored bard" who learned to write his poetry, such as it was, by working up the English classics on his own.

James Lackington (bookseller): "I cannot help observing, that the sale of books in general has increased prodigiously in the last twenty years. According to the best estimation I have been able to make, I suppose that more than four times the number of books are sold now than were sold twenty years since. The poorer sort of farmers, and even the poor country people in general, who before that period spent their winter evenings in relating stories of witches, ghosts, hobgoblins, &c. now shorten the winter nights by hearing their sons and daughters read tales, romances, &c. and on entering their houses, you may see Tom Jones, Roderick Random, and other entertaining books, stuck up on their bacon-racks, &c. If John goes to town with a load of hay, he is charged to be sure not forget to bring home 'Peregrin Pickle's Adventures'; and when Dolly is sent to market to sell her eggs, she is commissioned to purchase 'The History of Pamela Andrews.' In short, all ranks and degress now READ. But the most rapid increase of the sale of books has been since the termination of the late war" Memoirs of James Lackington (1794; 1804) 243.



Taliessin: May those fountains, Lady kind!
Still their wonted channels find,
Nor ever water-nymph neglect
The silent tribute of respect,
But, thro many a secret vein,
Still the purer essence strain,
And thy mystic urn supply,
Never turbid, never dry:—
Urn so pure, that Lunvey's tide,
Thro its waters doom'd to glide,
Silent, with unmingling wave,
Hastes the woody glen to lave,
And there, to list'ning groves, complains
Of Love o'eraw'd, and stifled pains;
With virgin beauties aye embrac'd,
Which yet he must not hope to taste.
May ever on thy brink appear
The earliest fragrance of the year,
And lingering Autumn in thy face
Reflected see his latest grace;
While still, as circling hours prevail,
The matin Lark and Nightingale
The song of lengthen'd rapture wake
To hail the Lady of the Lake.

[pp. 91-92]