1862 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Sheffield

Thomas Arnold, in A Manual of English Literature (1862; 1885) 356.



John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckinghamshire, whose name has met us before, is the author of a poem once greatly admired, the Essay on Poetry. There is an amatory turn about most of his shorter pieces; in many a reckless immortality. In satire he is sometimes very successful; the lines headed "The election of a Poet Laureate" (1719) are full of telling hits. A bigot is chosen, after much debate, who had long been known as "a hater of verse and despiser of plays." He accepts; the poets are surprised:—

But, the hypocrite told them, he well understood,
Though the function was wicked, the stipend was good.