1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Beattie

W. P., "Beattie and Churchill" Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (6 September 1776).



MR. EDITOR,

In a Poem by Dr. Beatie, calculated to depreciate the reputation of the departed Churchill, and abounding in reproaches on his memory, of the most ungenerous nature, I met the following lines, which have more poetical merit than any equal number in the Poem.

Is this the land that boasts a Milton's fire,
And magic Spencer's wildly-warbling lyre?
The land, that owns th' omnipotence of Song,
When Shakespeare whirls the throbbing heart along?
The land, where Pope, with energy divine,
In one strong blaze bade Wit and Fancy shine?

I will appeal to the evidence of any person's understanding, whether the passage transcribed is not, in its images, and expressions, copied from this beautiful apostrophe of the very bard he reprobates?

Is this the Land, where, on our Spencer's tongue,
Enamour'd of his voice, Description hung;
Where Johnson rigid gravity beguil'd,
Whilst Reason thro' her critic-fences smil'd;
Where Nature listening stood, whilst Shakespeare play'd,
And wonder'd at the work herself had made?

I will go futher, — I will ask any of Dr. Beatie's friends, whether the Doctor has fully preserved the fire of his original? — or whether the characteristics are as just?

August 25, 1776.