1770 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Ramsay

Adam Smith, 1770 ca.; in European Magazine 20 (August 1791) 135.



He [Adam Smith] did not much admire The Gentle Shepherd. He preferred the Pastor Fido, of which he spoke with rapture, and the Eclogues of Virgil. I pled as well as I could for Allan Ramsay, because I regarded him as the single unaffected Poet whom we have had since Buchanan — "Proximus huic longo sed proximus intervallo." He answered, "It the duty of a poet to write like a gentleman. I dislike that homely style which some think fit to call the language of nature and simplicity, and so forth. In Percy's Reliques too, a few tolerable pieces buried under a heap of rubbish. You have read perhaps Adam Bell Clym of the Cleugh, and William of Clourleslie?" I answered, Yes. "Well then," said he, "do you think that was worth printing?"