1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Matthew Prior

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 35.



I shall next desire you to take down the works of PRIOR, a poet whose fame is indeed somewhat obscured by time, but who has just claims to a reader's attention. You will find his versification generally melodious, and well varied in its pauses; his diction elegant and animated, and his ideas copious and poetical. He is apt to run into prolixity, and the subjects of many of his serious pieces are such as would afford you little entertainment; for what is less interesting than the incense bestowed upon royal and titled personages, after they have ceased to be the living objects of a respect which, perhaps, always belonged more to their stations than to themselves? When these temporary pieces, and others which I cannot with propriety recommend to your perusal, are abstracted, Prior's works will shrink to a small compass.