1746 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Waller

Edmund Burke, to Richard Shackleton, 5 October 1746; Leadbeater Papers (1862) 2:88.



I got yesterday Waller, whom I never read before, nor did you, I believe; for it would be needless to tell you, if you had, that he is one of the most charming poets of England. 'Tis surprizing how much softness and so much grandeur could dwell in one soul; his panegyricks are wonderfully fine. His chief excellence lies, I think, in making apparent defects of persons become their greatest praise, and that in a manner quite new. All his thoughts by the surprize they give us seem to have something epigrammatical in them, and in many places he is guilty in that respect; but that proceeds from their being expressed in the strongest and most concise manner, and so formed that his thoughts are not interwoven so as to form a continued discourse, but each is by itself, and strikes you full alone.