1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Rogers

Anonymous, in "The Augustan Age in England" The Album 1 (1822) 221-22.



Mr. ROGERS is the poet who has been usually accounted Goldsmith's successor; but, though his manner, certainly, resembles him very nearly, we do not think there is much similarity between their minds. Rogers is far less a poet of nature — and accordingly his sweetest verses are those which treat of social life. We think his Epistle to a Friend the best of his compositions. It represents the perfection of "lettered ease" — the beau ideal of the retreat of an intellectual and cultivated gentleman. On this ground Mr. Rogers is at home, and he handles his subject with admirable delicacy and grace. We are far, however, from excluding him from the praise of being a feeling and pathetic writer. Human Life and the Pleasures of Memory abound with passages of true tenderness, although there is a tendency in them, in general, to dilate too much on an idea — to trust too little to the effect of the first touch, and thus to become artificial and laboured. The Fragments of the Voyage of Columbus shew flashes of power which Mr. Rogers has nowhere else evinced. The very tone of the verse loses the silken and somewhat monotonous cadence of his ordinary manner, and acquires a grandeur proportionate to the mighty subject. If Mr. Rogers had written more in this style, he would stand far higher than he now does.