1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Sheffield

Walter Scott, 1808; in G. G. Cunningham, Illustrious Englishmen (1834-37) 4:99.



His Essay on Poetry is the best of his performances, and has received the highest commendations; but the most substantial and valuable mark of honour was bestowed on his Essay on Satire, since Dryden was beaten on a suspicion of his having written it. Sir Walter Scott, in his life of Dryden, speaks of this poem very contemptuously, though not unjustly. "The whole Essay is a mere stagnant level, and no part of it so far rises above the rest as to bespeak the work of a superior hand. The thoughts, even when conceived with some spirit, are clumsily and unhappily brought out."