1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in "Essay on the Genius of Collins" Collins, Poems (1830; 1865) lxv-lxvi.



Our poetry had generally become tame and trite; a sort of languid mechanism had brought it into contempt; it was very little read, and still less esteemed. This might be not merely the effect, but also the cause of a deficiency of striking genius in the candidates for the laurel. Collins and Gray were dead; Mason had hung up the lyre; and Thomas Warton was then thought too laboured and quaint; Hayley had succeeded beyond expectation by a return to moral and didactic poetry at a moment when the public was satiated by vile imitations of lyrical and descriptive composition; but Cowper gave a new impulse to the curiosity of poetical readers, by a natural train of thought and the unlaboured effusions of genuine feeling.