1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

Robert Anderson, in Works of the British Poets (1795) 10: 811.



As a poet, he is characterised by elegance, tenderness, and simplicity. He is of the school of Dryden and Pope, rather than that of Spenser or Milton. In sweetness and harmony, he rivals every writer of verse since the death of Pope. It is to be regretted, that his poetical performances are not more numerous. Though he wrote prose with great facility, he was rather slow in his poetry, not from the tardiness of fancy, but the time he took in pointing the sentiment, and polishing the versification. His manner of writing poetry, it is said, was this: he first sketched a part of his design in prose, in which he threw out his ideas as they occurred to him; he then sat carefully down to versify them, correct them, and add such other ideas as he thought better fitted to the subject. He sometimes would exceed his prose design, by writing several verses impromptu; but these he would take uncommon pains afterwards to revise, lest they should be unconnected with his main design.