1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Cumberland

Oliver Goldsmith, in Retaliation. A Poem (1774) 10-11.



Here Cumberland lies, having his part,
The Terence of England, the mender of hearts;
A flattering painter, who made it his care
To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are.
His gallants are all faultless, his women divine,
And comedy wonders at being so fine;
Like a tragedy queen he has dizen'd her out,
Or rather, like tragedy giving a rout.
His fools have their follies so lost in a croud
Of virtue and feelings, that folly grows proud,
And coxcombs alike in their failings alone,
Adopting his portraits are pleas'd with their own.
Say, where has our poet this malady caught,
Or wherefore his characters thus without fault?
Say, was it that vainly directing his view,
To find out mens virtues, and finding them few,
Quite sick of pursuing each troublesome elf,
He grew lazy at last, and drew from himself?