1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 1:205-06.



The justly celebrated author of the Baviad and the Maeviad, two Satirical Poems, both of which possess distinguished pretensions to merit, and have been much read and admired. They discover their author to possess a true vein of Satire, and, in the former instance, to be an Excellent Imitator of Persius. These poems were first published separately, but in the summer of 1797, were printed together in a neat pocket volume. The highest panegyric, is assuredly well bestowed on these Patriots in Literature, who are found ready to defend its cause in the hour of danger and perversion, by discountenancing the meretricious exuberances of its produce, and combating with the weapons of wit and satire, the advances of a degenerate taste and most baleful depravity. That the influence of the CRUSCAN SCHOOL upon our taste in poetry, was of this pernicious tendency, we have but too much reason to apprehend; and let every friend to the Muses and their benign influence, rejoice that so powerful an antagonist was found in the subject of the present article. Yet can we not help entering a clause in favor of Mr. Merry at least; and observing that we think Mr. Gifford has been unmercifully severe in mixing him indiscriminately with the goodly group. That he, as well as his syren coadjutors, is frequently reprehensible for his glitter and negligence, we will not deny, but that his poetical talents are despicable we can never allow. It gave us the greatest pleasure to hear that from the classical pen of the gentleman, the literary world is likely to be favoured with a Translation of Juvenal.