John Skelton: The Critical Heritage

By Anthony S. G.Edwards | Go to book overview

He has been regarded as a decidedly unheavenly body. Among folks of this world, however, I take him to have been a genuine worthy and entirely a man to have on one’s side—an anticipation, in some measure, both of the temper and the talents of Swift. There was in him, however, a greener leaf than that great nature could put forth. When these and other attempts at an estimate of Skelton have been made, one thing remains certain: it is long enough since the item, ‘of Mr. Skelton for viii. tapers ol. 2s. 8d.’ was entered in the churchwarden’s accounts of St. Margaret’s Westminster, but still we find a pathos in the substitution of those dim lights at last for the sunlight so heartily enjoyed and glorified by the laurelled Skelton.


Note
1
Pope, ‘Imitations of Horace’, Epistle II, i, 35-6.

50.

HUMBERT WOLFE ON SKELTON’S INNOVATION

1929

From ‘Notes on English Verse Satire’ (London, 1929), pp. 42-8. Wolfe (1885-1940) was a poet and essayist.

Time, on the whole, is a trusty critic. Not frequently, nor for long periods, will he slight a great talent. On the rare occasions that he does full atonement is made, as with Herrick, whose star burns ever brighter after a dusky first ascension. Of diamonds he is as expert a cutter as those of Holland, though he may sometimes permit a semi-precious stone to be mislaid among featureless pebbles. But John Skelton is one of Time’s errors, and he must be sternly impeached for this lack. In a book claiming some authority, ‘The English Poets’, edited by Thomas Ward, Mr. Churton Collins writes thus of Skelton: ‘Skelton’s claims to notice lie not so much in the intrinsic excellence of his work as in the complete originality of his style, in the variety of his powers, in the peculiar character of his satire, and in the ductility of his

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