1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Raleigh

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Sir Ralph Willoughby, an Historical Tale (1820) 40-41.



Sir Walter Raleigh is perhaps one of the most striking and interesting characters in British Biography. It is not easy to say any thing new of him. Many have doubted whether his ambition was sufficiently under the controul of nice principles of conscience. It is singular that a great part of his poetry has been buried and lost, among the Anonymous productions of his day. Some little pastoral pieces, for which he was celebrated, are still known to be his: and I have no doubt that to him belongs, "Go, Soul, the Body's Guest," though called in question by Mr. [Thomas] Campbell.

What can have become of his poem of Cinthia [mentioned in Spenser's dedicatory sonnet to Raleigh]? It seems certain that it was never published. — I am not confident that Raleigh could have been a great poet: he could have been at least a very ingenious one. From the whole structure and tone of Spenser's Sonnets, that Poet's testimony alone would have been sufficient to convince me of this.