1779 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

Vicesimus Knox, in Essays Moral and Literary (1779) 274-75.



The Gondibert of D'Avenant has been the subject of critical controversy from the time of its publication. Its plan was originally defended by the great Hobbes, and its execution has been greatly praised. Yet few have attended to it with pleasure, and still fewer have had a degree of patience sufficient to bear them through the perusal of it. The truth is, the stanza which he adopted, is better suited to elegiac than to heroic poetry. A beautifully descriptive passage interspersed in the course of two or three hundred lines, will not alleviate the tedium of the rest. An occasional flash of lightning cannot illuminate the continued gloominess of the whole prospect.