1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nicholas Rowe

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 254-55.



Rowe, however, stands at the head of our poetical tragedians and were the drama our subject, I should venture some remarks upon tragedy considered as a poem, which might perhaps support a higher estimate of his merits than modern taste seems to have established. Of his general poetry, his Translation of Lucan's Pharsalia is the most considerable work, and it maintains a respectable rank among our metrical versions of the classics. It has, however, that fault from which poetical translation is seldom free — exaggeration; and this, as the original is inclined to extravagance, has betrayed him into some whimsical instances of bombast. He likewise runs into prolixity; but to transfuse the sense of one of the most nervously concise of Latin writers into English couplets, is a task of so much difficulty, that it claims liberal allowance.