1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. I4.



As a Poet, Sir William's Rank seems as yet undetermined. His celebrated Epic of Gondibert was rendered at the same Time the Subject of the highest Commendation and the severest Criticism; tho' I must confess, that Envy appears to me to have had a much greater Share in the latter than Justice; for, tho' the Story of it may not perhaps be so interesting, (and that too in great Measure from it's not being so well known) as those of the Iliad and Aeneid, and that the Fetters of Rhime, and still more so those of Stanza Poetry, lay it under very great Restraint, yet it must be acknowledged, even by its strongest Opponents, that there runs through the Whole of it a Sublimity in the Sentiments, a Nobleness in the Manners, a Purity in the Diction, and a Luxuriancy in the Conceptions, that would have done Honour to any Writer of any Age or Country whatsoever.