1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Abraham Cowley

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 45.



From an original Picture in the Hall of Trinity College, Cambridge.

We have now before us the portrait of the graceful and fantastic COWLEY. He was, assuredly, a poet, although addicted too much like the last named author [Herrick], to conceits. His stature, however, was greater than Herrick's, who is a writer of trifles: whereas Cowley aimed at higher things, and possessed something better than mere ingenuity. There are excellent passages and brilliant thoughts scattered over his Davideis, and his Anacreontics are the best in our language. — In this likeness, which must be allowed to be all elegant representation of a fantastic man, the eye is quick, but without fire, the mouth is shrewd, and the action affected, but graceful. Were we inclined to find fault, we might insist that the face is almost too sleek for a poet, who is an ascetic by charter — but we forget his Anacreontics.