1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Robert Southey to William Taylor of Norwich, July 1804; in J. W. Robberds, Memoir of the Life and Writings of William Taylor (1843) 1:517-18.



Surely Dryden is not in the first class: Shakespere, Milton, Spenser, — these form the poetical trinity of England, and these are at an unapproachable distance from all their successors. With reference to these poets I place Dryden at the head of the second-rates. I admire, but do not love him; he can mend a versifier, but could never form a poet. His moral imbecility kept him down: with powers for painting, he chose to be a limner by trade; instead of amending ages to come, he was the pimp and pander of his own.