1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Philip Sidney

Robert Southey, in Review of Todd's Spenser; Annual Review 4 (1806) 547.



Nobody, it has been said, reads the Arcadia. We have known very many persons who have read it, men, women, and children, and never knew one who read it without deep interest, and an admiration at the genius of the writer, great in proportion as they were capable of appreciating it. The verses are very bad, not that he was a bad poet, (on the contrary, much of his poetry is of high merit,) but because he was then versifying upon an impracticable system. Let the reader pass over all the eclogues, as dull interludes unconnected with the drama, and if he do not delight in the story itself, in the skill with which the incidents are woven together and unravelled, and in the Shakspearian power and character of language with which they are painted; let him be assured the fault is in himself and not in the book.