1830
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sunset.

Antediluvian Sketches; and other Poems. By Richard Howitt.

Richard Howitt


Two Spenserians. Richard Howitt was the younger brother of the renowned William Howitt, author of Homes and Haunts of the British Poets (1847). This was his first collection of verse, some of it, according to the preface, previously published in periodicals.

The Athenaeum: "Mr. Richard Howitt has a fine taste for nature in all her simplicity. 'There is,' said Shelley, 'an eloquence in the tongueless wind, and a melody in the flowing brooks, and the rustling of the reeds beside them, which, by their inconceivable relation to something within the soul, awaken the spirits to dance in breathless rapture, and bring tears of mysterious tenderness to the eyes, like the enthusiasm of patriotic success, or the voice of one beloved singing to you, alone!' Nature must be studied, like a book, if we would paint her bright and beautiful as she is. Mountain and valley, the plain, the waste, the wooded upland, the roaring cataract, the half-voiced rivulet, the mighty ocean, the gorgeous splendour of the heavens, must be to us 'as the old familiar faces' which Charles Lamb (in auld lang syne) so sweetly sang of. The poet must be deep read in the mysteries of nature. The rhymester of the drawing-room — the admired of album-possessed maidens — elaborates a fancy portrait, while the poet dashes off a life-breathing picture, which, when beheld, is instantly and delightedly recognized. All the Howitts have this keen perception of the beauties of the natural world. They all write affectionately and unaffectedly" (4 December 1830) 757.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Richard Howitt, brother of William and Mary Howitt, settled for four years as a physician at Melbourne, Australia, has given us the results of his observations in his work intitled Impressions of Australia Felix, during Four Years' Residence in that Colony: Australian Poems, &c. Lon., 1845, 12mo.; 1847, 12mo." Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:906.



The fleecy clouds that skim the blue expanse,
And with the winds of heaven in dalliance go,
In the glad sun's illuminating glance
Blush the deep crimson of his setting glow:
Bright is the azure sky — the world below
Is not less beautiful; the streaming gold
Is on the hills, is on the river's flow:
Whate'er of rich Arcadia hath been told,
Lies here in beauty's tints, before mine eyes unrolled.

Hushed is the busy hum of toiling man,
And nature's voice, long drowned, is sweetly heard:
Again the river, which unmurmuring ran,
Is audible: each merry woodland bird
Carols aloud: the shadowy woods are stirred
To music in the wind: and on the air
Have odorous flowers their perfumed breath conferred:
Whate'er in sound is dear, in sight is fair,
Lives here in nature's breast to calm the brow of care.

[pp. 29-30]