1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gilbert Cooper

Robert Anderson, in Works of the British Poets (1795) 10:768.



Cooper was a man of agreeable appearance, of polite address, and accomplished manners. He was an active and useful magistrate; and his abilities were considerable enough to entitle him to the distinction of a polite and ingenious, though not a first rate writer. He belonged to a particular school of literature, that of his namesake Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury, as is apparent from his works in general, and is acknowledged in several particular passages. He was likewise devoted to other writers who embraced the sentimental philosophy, and especially to Hutcheson and Akenside....

As a poet, the compositions of Cooper are characterised by ease, elegance, and sprightliness. He is not destitute of enthusiasm and of fancy; but his fancy is not always under proper regulation; and he sometimes fails in the precision of his ideas. His sentiments, though seldom new, are generally liberal and just; his diction, with some exceptions, proper and easy, and his versification sweetly modulated and harmonious. His chief defect is a superabundance of prosopopeias, which is one of the tricks of modern poetry.