1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William King

John Nichols, Note in Original Works of William King (1776) 3:308.



In the progress of these Volumes through the press, the Editor could not but frequently remark a striking similarity between Dr. King and the Author of the "Epistles to Lorenzo;" an observation, however, which he had no thought of mentioning, till he observed, in a monthly publication [editor's note: Monthly Review, for December, 1775], the latter of those writers had been compared with Mr. Sterne. — Without the most distant intention either of "offering a sop to Cerberus," or of degrading the abilities of Dr. Kenrick; it is submitted to the attentive Reader, whether our parallel be not the more faithful resemblance. Dr. King's most striking characteristicks were, an inexhaustible fund of real wit, and an irony most severely poignant; talents which Dr. Kenrick possesses in perfection. The former was properly a bon vivant, and had a heart so exquisitely convivial, that he was the delight of all with whom he disputed. And even their poetry (admitting the remark of the Reviewer, "that it is easier for a middling Poet in these days to make good rhymes, than it was formerly for a good one") is not unlike. Our Author, in his "Art of Love," like the Writer of the "Epistles," wished rather, perhaps, to attach his readers by the power of is philosophy, than by the sweetness of his poetry. Yet that many instances might be produced, where the sense of both must be allowed to be happily adorned with the most judicious choice of rhyme, the slightest inspection of the "Orpheus and Eurydice" of the one, or the "Moral Epistles" of the other, will plainly testify. In their lighter Essays, their manner is till more congenial: the same conciseness, the same epigrammatic turn, is evidently conspicuous. And, to heighten the similarity, if Dr. King ventured boldly to enter the lists with Dr. Bentley, Dr. Kenrick hath, not less daringly, waged literary war with a modern Aristarchus, the justly celebrated Author of The Rambler.