1771 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Phineas Fletcher

Alexander Fraser Tytler, in Browne of Tavistock, Piscatory Eclogues (1771) 5n.



In this description of the fisher's youth and education [in Eclogue I], there is a remarkable similarity to some passages in the 12th Eclogue of Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar. He seems to have been an admirer, and frequently too an imitator of that great poet: but where he has borrowed his thoughts, there are none, I believe, who, upon a comparison, will deny that he has improved on them. The force and tenderness of sentiment, in many of Spenser's Eclogues, is often much impaired by an affected rusticity of expression, which, though some have imagined essential to pastoral, is entirely distinct from simplicity and feeling, and is indeed unfit to convey such sentiments. This Fletcher well knew, and without losing sight of the characters of his speakers, has never descended to vulgarism or affected obscurity.