1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

Thomas Campbell, in Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1845) 517.



This nobleman's public and private virtues, and his merits as the historian of Henry II., will not be forgotten. By a felicity very rare in his attempts at poetry, the kids and fawns of his Monody do not entirely extinguish all appearance of that sincere feeling with which it must have been composed. Gray, in a letter to Horace Walpole, has justly remarked the beauty of the stanza beginning "In vain I look around." "If it were all like this stanza," he continues, "I should be excessively pleased. Nature, and sorrow, and tenderness are the true genius of such things, (monodies,) and something of these I find in several parts of it (not in the orange tree.) Poetical ornaments are foreign to the purpose, for they only show a man is not sorry; and devotion is worse, for it teaches him that he ought not to be sorry, which is all the pleasure of the thing."