1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dennis

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. K-Kv.



In Prose, he is far from a bad Writer, where Abuse and personal Scurrility does not mingle itself with his Language. In Verse, he is extremely unequal, his Numbers being at some Times spirited and Harmonious, and his Subjects elevated and judicious, and at others flat, harsh, and puerile. — As a dramatic Author, he certainly deserves not to be held in any Consideration. — His Plots, excepting that of his Plot and no Plot, which is a political Play, are all borrowed, yet in the general not ill-chosen. But his Characters are ill-design'd, and unfinished, his Language prosaical, flat, and undramatic, and the Conduct of his principal scenes heavy, dull, and unimpassioned. — In short, tho' he certainly had Judgment, it is evident he had no Execution; and as much better a Critic is he than a Dramatist, that I cannot help subscribing to the Opinion of a Gentleman, who said of him, that he was the most complete Instructor for a dramatic Poet; since he could teach him to distinguish good Plays by his Precepts, and bad ones by his Examples.