1783 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. George Crabbe

John Scott of Amwell to James Beattie, 30 March 1783; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 2:125.



The Village [is] a very classical composition, but also too long; and very unnecessarily, and I think absurdly, divided into two books. It seems designed as a contrast to Goldsmith's Deserted Village, in one point of view; that is, so far as Goldsmith's expatiates on the felicities and innocencies of rural life. The author of The Village takes the dark side of the question; he paints all with a sombre pencil; too justly, perhaps, but, to me at least, unpleasingly. We know there is no unmixed happiness in any state of life, but one does not wish to be perpetually told so. The author of the above is a Mr. Crabbe, who published a poem, called The Library, about two years ago. I am told he was an apprentice to a surgeon in Suffolk, but, on the display of his poetical talents, met with friends, who advised him to take orders, and gave him a living. Literary merit, in this age, rarely meets such encouragement.