1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Henry Neele, in Russell Institution Lectures on English Poetry (1827); Remains (New York, 1829) 33-34.



Pastoral and descriptive poetry was in the hands of such rural swains as Ambrose Philips and others, who painted their landscapes after the model of Hyde Park, and the squares; and drew their sketches of rural life and manners from what they observed at the levees and the drawing rooms of the great. Mere unsophisticated simple nature was considered low and vulgar, and when Gay wrote his Eclogues, which he intended should be burlesque, he went to the furthest possible remove from the fashionable and elegant way of writing pastoral poetry, and so, unconsciously produced a real and natural likeness of rustic scenery and society.