1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Mark Akenside

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 205-06.



It is to be regretted when a man of real talents mistakes his powers, and hazards by unsuccessful attempts the loss of part of the reputation he had acquired by former exertions. This is generally admitted to be the case with respect to AKENSIDE as a writer of odes. His compositions under this title are so numerous, that we must suppose he felt pleasure and expected fame from the employment; yet there is scarcely one which excites any thing like rapture in the reader. They are not devoid of poetry, either in the sentiments or the diction; but they are stiff and inanimate, without the enthusiasm of the loftier ode, or the amenity of the lighter. He has tried a great variety of measures; but some displease by their monotony, while others present changes of length and modulation which have no apparent correspondence with the sense, and add nothing to the melody. Several of them are upon amatory topics, but never was there a colder worshipper at the shrine of Venus than Dr. Akenside.