1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joshua Sylvester

Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 2 March 1815; New Letters, ed. Curry (1965) 2:116.



Have you ever seen Sylvester's translation of Du Bartas? The great work upon which the extraordinary, tho ephemeral, popularity of the French poet was founded takes the same range of scripture history that you have done, tho handled in a very different manner, being full of digressions and desultory matter. Du Bartas comes down to the Captivity. Two other parts were to have compleated his plan — Messiah, and the Eternal Sabbath, but he did not live to write them. But I am inclined to think that if he had lived, he would have filled up the intervening portion of Jewish history, and probably have made his Judith a part of this extensive undertaking. You who perhaps are not so tolerant in these matters as I am, would perhaps be disgusted with the conceits of Du Bartas and the quaintness of his translator. I can see all their faults and yet admire the powers which both have perverted.