1835 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Beattie

Robert Southey, in Life and Works of Cowper (1835-37) 2:180-81.



Yet in this stanza Thomson had composed the Castle of Indolence, and Shenstone his Schoolmistress, each being very far the best work of its author; and the publication of Percy's Reliques gave birth to a third poem in the same delightful measure, which though the author, failing to work out his own conception, left it imperfect, will nevertheless hold its place with these, centuries hence, when time shall have winnowed the wheat in our granaries from the chaff, and purged the floor: . . it was from reading Percy's preliminary Dissertation, that Beattie conceived the intention of writing his Minstrel. No poem has ever given more delight to minds of a certain class, and in a certain stage of their progress, ... that class a high one, and that stage perhaps the most delightful in the course of their pilgrimage. It was to this class that the poet himself belonged; the scenes which he delineated were those in which he had grown up, the feelings and aspirations those of his own boyhood and youth, and the poem derived its peculiar charm from its truth.