1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

Robert Anderson, in Works of the British Poets (1795) 10:248.



In the several characters of a judicious critic, an entertaining traveller, a wise and upright statesman, and a good man, his reputation is so decisively fixed, and so firmly established, that it can receive little additional lustre from encomium and panegyric; and is in no danger of suffering from the attacks of criticism or censure.

As a poet, his compositions are characterised by elegance, ease, and harmony, without much elevation, energy, or enthusiasm. In his Monody, the most popular of his productions, the virtues and accomplishments of his excellent lady, are commemorated in numbers equally harmonious and tender. He who can read it without melting into tears, has little claim to sensibility. It appears to have flowed simply from the genuine feelings of a most susceptible and deeply afflicted heart. His Progress of Love discovers delicacy of sentiment, pleasing imagery, and correct and harmonious versification. It is not, however, entirely free from the studied expression and false ornaments by which pastoral poetry is often fantastically disguised. His Advice to Belinda, unites spirit and propriety, sense and harmony, in the highest degree. His Epistle to Dr. Ayscough, is vigorously and elegantly written. His Epistle to Pope is finely encomiastic; the conclusion highly poetical. His other Epistles have their brighter passages. His Songs and Epigrams are commonly sprightly and easy.