1883 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Warner

Thomas Corser, in Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 11 (1883) 344.



The reputation of Warner as a poet, who by his contemporaries was coupled with Spenser, and was compared to Virgil and Ovid, and esteemed as a refiner and ornamentor of our language, appears to us at the present day, so utterly beyond his merits, that we are at a loss to appreciate those poetic qualities which gained him so much favour, and made him so exceedingly popular; his chief Poem of Albions England having gone through eight or nine editions in little more than twenty-five years, seven of which were printed in his life-time. Attempts have been made of late years by Dr. Drake, Headley, and other critics, to revive the popularity of Warner, but we believe without much success. And although admitted with great justice by Chalmers amongst his general collection of our National English Poetry, Warner must still continue to be classed among our inferior Poets. It is true that there are in his poems several passages of pathos and simple feeling, but they are very unequal, and the majority of his verse are coarse and quaint, occasionally indelicate, and destitute of much refinement: so that he can hardly be entitled to the character, given him by one of these writers, of "this fine old poet," or of another, as "fine to an extraordinary degree."