1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir James Bland Burges

Anonymous, in Review of Burges, The Dragon Knight; NS 88 (March 1819) 325.



In twelve cantos!!! "Si ulterius ire pergis," &c. &c. There must be a dragon of a reader, indeed, as well as a "dragon knight,' to get through this poem; which, with perfectly good sense, good English, and good versification, still contains nothing that can properly be called poetry.

It was once (perhaps twice) prettily said, that "he who is good and disagreeable is guilty of high treason against virtue." So we say that he who writes verses in the nominal measure of Dryden and Pope, and (to a certain small degree) in their language also, but at the same time is wholly deficient in compression, energy, picturesque fancy, figurative expression, and varied harmony, is guilty of something more than petty larceny against good taste in poetical literature.

We are unwilling to be very serious in our reprehension of Sir James Bland Burges, because he is both "melancholy and gentlemanlike" in his compositions; and that he is "musical," also, many passages of the Dragon Knight would sufficiently evince: — but all this is not enough. It will not satisfy any lover of sacred "song," to be presented with a well printed octavo of daudling distichs; where "gentle knights come pricking o'er the plain" in a nauseous sort of abundance.