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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIII. The Victorian Age, Part One.

VI. Lesser Poets of the Middle and Later Nineteenth Century

§ 22. W. M. Wilks Call; T. T. Lynch

All the writers of scared poetry just mentioned professed throughout their lives one or another—sometimes more than one-from of orthodox Christianity. But free thought, undogmatism, unorthodoxy, or whatever it pleases to call itself, also produced a number of verse-writers too large to be dealt with here except by sample. The best sample of them, moreover, A. H. Clouth, is not within our jurisdication here. We must, therefore, confine the representation the representation of the class to two writers only W. M. Wilks Call and Thomas Toke Lynch.

Call was a Cambridge man and, on leaving college, took orders; not was it till he was near the half-way house of a rather more than ordinarily prolonged life that what are politely called “difficulties” made him give up his duties. He never returned to them; but the type (a not uncommon one) of his dissidence may be gauged by the fact that, in one his best poems, having made the refrain

  • I priase thee, God!
  • he altered “God” to “World” and afterwards altered it back again. Eloquent, also, is the compliment which an admiring critic of, perhaps, his best-known thing, the prettily sentimental and pathetic Manoli, published in a popular magazine, that it “illustrates the saddening idea that the collective welfare is too frequently purchased by the suffering of the individual”—on which, as a theme for poetry, one would like to have heard Matthew Arnold, himself no fanatic of dogma. But call had some poetical gift, and The Bird the Bower shows it. Lynch was an independent minister and carried his independence somewhat far even in the opinion of his brethren. But he also had a not inconsiderable power of writing hymns and nondescript lyrics which warble in the precincts of hymnody proper.