1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joshua Sylvester

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



From a Print by Van Dalen, prefixed to his Translation of Du Bartas.

JOSHUA SYLVESTER, the once famous translator of Du Bartas's "Divine Weeks and Works," wears upon his high forehead the laurel crown which his cotemporaries awarded him, and which posterity has not thought it worth while to disturb. He has a grave and imposing aspect and a severe eye, and altogether forms an exceedingly striking picture. He is not unlike some of the portraits of Cervantes that we have seen, although it would be difficult to detect a particle of wit or humour in his glance, which is, on the contrary, somewhat imperative and didactic. To a person unacquainted with him, it would not be easy to say whether he was a pedagogue, a soldier, or a poet; the elements of each seem so mingled together. In the times of the Knights Templars, or when the heroes of the Cross went singing to battle, he would have passed for one of those musical members of the church-militant, who cut their way by two distinct roads to the laurelled altar of Fame. His poems are cold and not very amusing; but there are in them occasional instances of sparkling ingenious figures, and his sonnets are very melodious.