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Procter
Procter
418

ments, and a preface announcing his farewell to poetry; save for such isolated exceptions as his fine epistle to Browning, he abstained from verse for the remainder of his life. In the same year he undertook a life of Edmund Kean, a task which Leigh Hunt had wisely declined. It was published in 1835, but Procter earned nothing from it beyond his stipulated honorarium and a scathing critique in the 'Quarterly.' He had already been called to the bar, and in 1832 was made a metropolitan commissioner in lunacy, which seems to have been thought an eminently suitable appointment for a poet. He held it until 1861, when he retired upon a pension calculated on no generous scale. But the blow was broken by the handsome legacy he had received a few years previously from John Kenyon [q. v.] His prose writings were published in America in 1853, and no occurrence of importance marked the remainder of his life except the death of his daughter Adelaide in 1864, and the publication in London of his delightful biography of Charles Lamb in 1866. Procter died on 5 Oct. 1874. His wife survived until March 1888. She was long the centre of a highly cultivated circle, which delighted in her shrewdness and wit. 'Her spirits,' says a writer in the 'Academy,' 'often had had to do for both.'

Procter's disposition is one of the most amiable recorded in the history of literature, Carlyle called him 'a decidedly rather pretty little fellow, bodily and spiritually.' He appears entirely exempt from the ordinary defects of the literary character, and a model of kindly sympathy and generous appreciation. His secret good deeds were innumerable. His chief intellectual endowment was an instinctive perception of novel merit, which embraced the most various styles of literary excellence, and which, combined with his frankness of eulogy and his wide social opportunities, enabled him to be of great service to young genius. Browning and Swinburne were both deeply indebted to him in this respect. His own claims as a poet cannot be rated high. His narrative poems occasionally display beauty both of diction and versification, but are on the whole languid compositions, whose chief interest is that they alone among the poems of the day evince the influence of Shelley, who is imitated judiciously and without exaggeration or servility. Some of the longer dramatic scenes have extraordinary lapses into bathos, but the brief fragments are often fanciful and poetical. Procter's songs will probably constitute the most abiding portion of his work. A few, such as 'To a Flower,' are exceedingly beautiful, and others have obtained wide popularity through their simple energy and the musical accompaniments by Chevalier Neukomm, who, according to Chorley, monopolised the proceeds. His prose writings are always agreeable. The most valuable are the essay on Shakespeare, whom he idolised, contributed to an edition of the poet's works in 1843, and the biography of Charles Lamb, simple and unpretending, but irradiated by the light of personal acquaintance and the glow of sympathy.

The following is a list of Procter's works;

  1. 'Dramatic Scenes and other Poems,' 1819, 12mo; new edit, with illustrations by John Tenniel, 1857-8.
  2. 'Marcian Colonna, an Italian tale, with three Dramatic Scenes and other poems,' 1830, 8vo.
  3. 'A Sicilian Story, with Diego de Montilla and other poems,' 1820, 12mo; 3rd edit. 1821.
  4. 'Mirandola: a tragedy' (in five acts and in verse). 1821, 8vo.
  5. 'Poetical Works,' 3 vols. 1822, 12mo.
  6. 'The Flood of Thessaly, the Girl of Provence, and other poems,' 18i?3, 8vo.
  7. 'Effigies Poeticæ, or the Portraits of the British Poets; illustrated by notes biographical, critical, and poetical,' 1824, 8vo.
  8. 'English Songs and other smaller poems,' 1832. 12mo; 3rd edit. 1851.
  9. 'Life of Edmund Kean,' 1835, 8vo; German translation, 1836. 8vo.
  10. 'Essays and Tales in Prose,' 2 vols. Boston, 1853.
  11. 'Charles Lamb: a Memoir,' 1866-8, 8to.
  12. 'Autobiographical Fragment,' ed. C.P., 1877, 8vo [see below].

His editions include 'The Works of Ben Jonson, with Memoir' (1838), 'The Works of Shakespeare, with Memoir and Essay on his Genius' (1843; reissued 1853, 1857, and 1875), 'Selections from Browning,' in conjunction with J. Forster (1863),and 'Essays of Elia, with a Memoir of Lamb' (1879).

His critical papers and his tales, contributed to annuals, were mostly comprised in the American edition of his prose miscellanies, but have not been reprinted in England.

[The principal authority for Procter's life is his own fragmentary autobiography, accompanied by reminiscences of eminent persons whom he had known, and supplemented with additional particulars by 'C.P.' (Coventry Patmore), 1877. See also Miss Martineau's Biographic Sketches; H. T. Chorley's Autobiography; Madame Belloc's In a Walled Garden; J. T. Fields's Old Acquaintances, 1876; S. C. Hall's Reminiscences ii. 25-6; E. P. Whipple in International Magazine, vol, iv.; S. T. Mayer in Gent. Mag. vol. xiii. new ser.; Edinburgh Review, vol. cxlvii.; Athenæum, 10 Oct, 1874; Academy, 17 March 1883.]

R. G.