1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Beattie

William Cowper to Rev. William Unwin, 5 April 1784; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 2:136.



I thanked you in the last for Johnson; I now thank you with more emphasis for Beattie, — the most agreeable and amiable writer I ever met with; the only author I have seen, whose critical and philosophical researches are diversified by a poetical imagination, that makes even the driest subject and the leanest, a feast for an epicure in books. He is so much at his ease, too, that his own character appears on every page; and, which is very rare, we see not only the writer, but the man; and that man so gentle, so well-tempered, so happy in his religion, and so humane in his philosophy, that it is necessary to love him, if one has any sense of what is lovely. If you have not his poem, called The Minstrel, and cannot borrow it, I must beg you to buy it for me; for though I cannot afford to deal largely in so expensive a commodity as books, I must afford to purchase at least the poetical works of Beattie.