1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

William Hazlitt, in Select British Poets (1824); Works, ed. Howe (1932) 9:242.



COWPER is the last of the English poets in the first division of this collection, but though last, not least. He is, after Thomson, the best of our descriptive poets — more minute and graphical, but with less warmth of feeling and natural enthusiasm than the author of THE SEASONS. He has also fine manly sense, a pensive and interesting turn of thought, tenderness occasionally running into the most touching pathos, and a patriotic or religious zeal mounting almost into sublimity. He had great simplicity with terseness of style: his versification is neither strikingly faulty nor excellent. His occasional copies of verses have great elegance; and his John Gilpin is one of the most humorous pieces in the language.