1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William King

Robert Anderson, in Works of the British Poets (1795) 6:655.



His Poems, distinctly considered, do not seem unworthy of his reputation; neither do they appear to entitle him to rank among our best poets. He seems to have cultivated the grotesque and familiar style, without aiming at seriousness or sublimity. His Imitations and Tales, therefore, do not display that boldness of invention and vivacity of fancy which characterise the higher poetry, but are chiefly distinguished by their sprightliness, familiarity, and ease. His Art of Cookery is an ingenious and skilful imitation of Horace, and justly reckoned an admirable satirico-didactic poem. His Art of Love is remarkable, notwithstanding its title, for purity of sentiment, and chaste description. It is divided into fourteen books, most of which end with some remarkable fable, or interesting novel. His Tales have obtained general approbation. They are facetious and familiar. The language is easy, but seldom gross, and the versification smooth, without appearance of study. It is not known, whether he was the original author of any of them. Some of them are undoubtedly older than his time: But the art of telling them is his own, and that is the chief merit of such trifling compositions. His Political Verses, dictated by party rage, and designed to asperse the friends of the Revolution and the Protestant succession, may be permitted to perish, without any diminution of his fame.