1772 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Burke

Anonymous, in "Catalogue of the most celebrated Writers" Letters concerning the present State of England (1772) 345-47.



BURK. The most beautiful writer of the present age; an elegant but chaste imagination; an expression clear and animated; a knowledge boundless as science; with all the splendor of learning, and all the grace of cultivated fancy. These are accomplishments that shine in every page of his works, that catch the attention of all sorts of readers, and please with the same force that they instruct. His Philosophical Enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful, is by far the finest criticism that the present age has produced; it is full of the most original observations, that perhaps were ever thrown together in any work our language has produced; the author being one of those rare genius's that in every line thinks only for himself. And he has not only the felicity of being perfectly original in his ideas; but also the singular circumstance of demonstrating at the same time their propriety. — This will clearly appear, if we turn to the chapters, The physical cause of love. — Why smoothness is beautiful. — Sweetness its nature. — Sweetness relaxing; — and indeed the whole fifth part, which treats of the efficient cause of the sublime and beautiful.

His Vindication of the Natural Society, written in the manner of the late lord Bolingbroke, is a most happy imitation of another's stile; and the arguments are not only lively but specious.

The political pamphlets attributed to him, are the best this age has produced; and every one, not blinded by party prejudice, must allow that they carry conviction in every page.