1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

William Cowper, in "Table Talk" Cowper, Poems (1782) 33-34.



Then decent pleasantry and sterling sense
That neither gave nor would endure offence,
Whipp'd out of sight with satyr just and keen
The puppy pack that had defiled the scene.

In front of these came Addison. In him
Humour in holiday and sightly trim,
Sublimity and attic taste combin'd,
To polish, furnish, and delight the mind.
Then Pope, as harmony itself exact,
In verse well disciplined, complete, compact,
Gave virtue and morality a grace
That quite eclipsing pleasure's painted face,
Levied a tax of wonder and applause,
Ev'n on the fools that trampl'd on their laws.
But he (his musical finesse was such,
So nice his ear, so delicate his touch)
Made poetry a mere mechanic art,
And ev'ry warbler has his tune by heart.
Nature imparting her satyric gift,
Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swift,
With droll sobriety they rais'd a smile
At folly's cost, themselves unmov'd the while.
That constellation set, the world in vain
Must hope to look upon their like again.