1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Fowler

John Leyden, in Scotish Descriptive Poems; with some Illustrations of Scotish Literary Antiquities (1803) 233-34.



The style of Fowler is often quaint, affected, and full of antithesis; while it exhibits much of the tinsel of Italian amatory poetry. In his Tarantula of Love, which consists of sonnets, he is a studious imitator of Petrarch, even in his most unnatural conceits. Sometimes, however, he aspires to the praise of simple elegance; and he possesses a facility of versification, and a harmony of numbers, which the best poets of the period were not always able to attain. The Scotish court of James VI. in the midst of pedantry, scholastic jargon, and polemic theology, produced several poets by no means devoid of genius. Some possessed quaintness of wit, some easy versification, and some the power of affecting the emotions of the heart; but the various talents of the poet were seldom concentrated in the same person. The rays of poetical light were refracted and divided among several poets. In Drummond alone were they united, and displayed the radiance of fancy. In the following specimens of Fowler's poetry, the orthography has been reduced to the modern standard, as his style exhibits little of the Scotish idiom. They have been chiefly selected for the purpose of illustrating his powers of description.