1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Tickell

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 248-49.



It would be unjust to confound with such unsuccessful votaries of the Muses, TICKELL, the friend of Addison, and, in some degree, the rival of Pope. Few poets of that age equalled him in elegance of diction and melody of versification; and if he does not display powers of invention of the first class, his thoughts generally please by their justness and ingenuity. None of his pieces are void of some appropriate merit. The poem On the Prospect of Peace is one of the best of the political class its adulatory strains are not trite and vulgar, but expand in an agreeable variety of imagery. The Imitation of the Prophecy of Nereus, and the Epistle to a Gentleman at Avignon, possess much merit as party poems; but the union of party and poetry will probably afford you little pleasure. Kensington Garden is a pretty fancy-piece; not correct, indeed, in its mythology, since it blends the fiction of the fairy system with that of the heathen deities — but elegant and picturesque in its descriptions. Colin and Lucy you have probably met with in song-collections, where it has a place as one of the most beautiful of modern ballads. The pathetic strain which he has there touched upon in a fictitious subject, he has pursued in reality on occasion of the death of his great friend and patron Addison. His elegiac poem on this event has perhaps no superior of its class in the language, for the justness of its sentiments, and the serious dignity of its poetry.