1825 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Henry Mackenzie, Anecdotes and Egotisms, 1825 ca.; ed. Thompson (1927) 156.



There is what I conceive to be a heresy in the modern criticisms of the poetry of Pope and other poets of that school. The poets of this day, at least in the remarks and criticisms of magazines and reviews, arrogate to themselves a superiority in imagination to which I do not think they are fairly entitled. There is a sort of figurative, often involved expression of which the obscurity frequently passes for inspiration, but which if coolly considered is not more imaginative nor sublime than the plainer and more everyday language of Pope, which those critics undervalue. There is a difference in form and appearance, but not always in value, as he who parts with sterling gold for bank-notes is not a whit richer, but in some situations poorer than before.