1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Drummond

William Hazlitt, in Lectures chiefly on the Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth (1820; 1845) 142-43, 147.



The name of Drummond of Hawthornden is in a manner entwined in cypher with that of Ben Jonson. He has not done himself or Jonson any credit by his account of their conversation; but his sonnets are in the highest degree elegant, harmonious, and striking. It appears to me that they are more in the manner of Petrarch than any others we have, with a certain intenseness in the sentiment, an occasional glitter of thought, and uniform terseness of expression....

I should, on the whole, prefer Drummond's sonnets to Spenser's; and they leave Sydney's, picking their way through verbal intricacies and "thorny queaches," at an immeasurable distance behind. Drummond's other poems have great though not equal merit; and he may be fairly set down as one of our old English classics.