* * * * *
After these extracts, we have but one word more to say of Mr. Hunt’s poetry; which is, that amidst all his vanity, vulgarity, ignorance, and coarseness, there are here and there some well-executed descriptions, and occasionally a line of which the sense and the expression are good— The interest of the story itself is so great that we do not think it wholly lost even in Mr. Hunt’s hands. He has, at least, the merit of telling it with decency; and, bating the qualities of versification, expression, and dignity, on which he peculiarly piques himself, and in which he has utterly failed, the poem is one which, in our opinion at least, may be read with satisfaction after GALT’S Tragedies.
Mr. Hunt prefixes to his work a dedication to Lord Byron, in which he assumes a high tone, and talks big of his “fellow-dignity” and independence: what fellow-dignity may mean, we know not; perhaps the dignity of a fellow; but this we will say, that Mr. Hunt is not more unlucky in his pompous pretension to versification and good language, than he is in that which he makes, in this dedication, to proper spirit, as he calls it, and fellow-dignity; for we never, in so few lines, saw so many clear marks of the vulgar impatience of a low man, conscious and ashamed of his wretched vanity, and labouring, with coarse flippancy, to scramble over the bounds of birth and education, and fidget himself into the stout-heartedness of being familiar with a LORD.
[From The Quarterly Review, October, 1816]
Shakespeare’s Himself Again! or the Language of the Poet asserted; being a full and dispassionate Examen of the Readings and Interpretations of the several Editors. Comprised in a Series of Notes, Sixteen Hundred in Number, illustrative of the most difficult Passages in his Plays—to the various editions of which the present Volumes form a complete and necessary Supplement. By ANDREW BECKET. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 730. 1816.
If the dead could be supposed to take any interest in the integrity of their literary reputation, with what complacency might we not imagine our great poet to contemplate the labours of the present writer! Two centuries have passed away since his death—the mind almost sinks under the reflection that he has been all that while exhibited to us so “transmographied” by the joint ignorance and malice of printers, critics, etc., as to be wholly unlike himself. But—post nubila, Phoebus! Mr. Andrew Becket has at length risen upon the world, and Shakespeare is about to shine forth in genuine and unclouded glory!
What we have at present is a mere scantling of the great work in procinctu—[Greek: pidakos ex ieraes oligaelizas]—sixteen hundred “restorations,” and no more! But if these shall be favourably received, a complete edition of the poet will speedily follow. Mr. Becket has taken him to develop; and it is truly surprizing to behold how beautiful he comes forth as the editor proceeds in unrolling those unseemly and unnatural rags in which he has hitherto been so disgracefully wrapped: