1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

William Lisle Bowles, Note to Prologue to the Satires; Works of Pope, ed. Bowles (1806) 7:6.



The Letters of Cowper, also a Poet, form a perfect contrast to Pope's. In the one, I think I see a mind striving to be great, and affecting to be unaffected; in the other, we contemplate, not the studious loftiness, but the playfulness of a mind naturally lofty, throwing at random a ray of sweetness, cheerfulness, and tenderness, upon whatever subject occurs, mixed occasionally with severer touches of wisdom, and a mournful, but seldom angry, survey of the follies of mankind. We see the playful humour, mingled with melancholy, and the melancholy, mingled with kindness, social feelings, sincerity, and tenderness.