1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. David Rivers

Anonymous, Review of Rivers, Poems; Poetical Register and Repository of Fugitive Poetry for 1801 (1802) 439-40.



It has often occured to us, in the course of our critical labours, that versifiers, as far as merely regards verse, might be divided into three classes — those who trust to their ears for the accuracy of their metre; those who ascertain it by counting their fingers; and those who seemed to possess neither ears nor fingers. To this last division belongs the author of Lord Mayor's Day. It is scarcely possible to conceive any thing more grotesque than his verse. We shall give rather a favourable specimen.

Neart to that stone of venerable antiquity,
Which London antiquaries have so much neglected—,
But on which sagacious Hutton has most profoundly written!

The beauty of his verse can alone be equalled by the purity of his English, as may be discovered by the following lines:

When Gallia's proud fleet from Toulon did set sail,

The Frenchmen began for to give themselves airs, &c.