1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Raleigh

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 18-19.



From an original Picture in the collection of the Dutchess of Dorset.

More of the adventurer, the soldier, or the courtier, perhaps, than of the poet, may be traced in this likeness of SIR WALTER RALEIGH. There is neither the collected meditative look, nor the soaring glance which is said to accompany the "fine madness;" but there is a gay, shrewd, undaunted eye, fit for a hero, or the gallant, who cast down his embroidered cloak amidst the dust for the "virgin queen" to tread upon. There can be no doubt but that the resemblance is good; for it is characteristic of the intelligent Raleigh. He looks studded all over with pearls and jewels and "barbaric gold," rich with the plunder of some El Dorado of the west, and wearing an exulting look, like a soldier retained home from conquest.

Raleigh was a poet as well as a hero; and his sonnet "Upon Conceipt of the Fairy Queen," which is usually prefixed to Spenser's poems, is very fine. His verses, generally speaking, are neat but cold, and have much of the conceit of the time. His flowers however, "Those pretty daughters of the earth and air," must not be forgotten. On the whole, Sir Walter Raleigh has great claims upon our regard; the more especially when we consider how very rarely it happens that men can wield at once both the sword and the pen.