1709 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Henry More

John Reynolds, in Death's Vision (1709) 3-5.



What! is Philosophy so Barren a Soil? or is it too Stubborn to yield to those Notional Flights, that are not Govern'd by Matter and Motion? or are the two Genus's, of the Philosopher and Poet, too Widely distant to be Consistent? Certainly there have been a more Easy Conjunction of 'em, had our Poets been furnish'd with as much Philosophy, as Philosophers have with Strength of Imagination and Fancy. Or has the Ruggedness and Antique Dress of Dr. Henry More's Philosophical Essays Discouraged others from attempting any thing in the life Kind? 'Tis true such Master is Restive, Refractory and Unpolishable enough. Not unlike the Philosopher's Materia Prima, Susceptive of all, Especially Vivid Forms. 'Tis Unactive, Heavy and Dull; Refuses, Ordinarily, that Metaphorical Cloathing, those turns of Fancy and Wit, that almost Essentiate a Poem, and Accommodate it to Sprightly minds. With Stubborn Matter, must Philosophical Terms and Mechanical Language be Employ'd, which are reckon'd Contradictions to the Sweetness and Softness of Poetry; and are, usually, as Insignificant and Insipid to the Men of Air and Wit, as they themselves are wont to be to those of Philosophical Thought and Study. The Consideration of the necessity of Introducing here such Novel, Uncouth words and Diction, seems to have afforded Discouragement even to Lucretius himself.

Nec me Animi fallit, Graiorum obscura reperta
Difficile inlustrare Latinis versibus Esse.
(Multa Novis verbis parefertim cum sit Agendum)
Propter Egestatem Linguae et Rerum Novitatem.

But 'tis to be suppos'd, that those Difficulties and Discouragements may be either Conquer'd or Compensated by the true Poetical Genius and Wit, that cannot be so, by one that can pretend to neither. And, methinks, twas a Noble path, for Matter and Tendency, that, That Philosophical Doctor trod; tho', since that, Trac'd by so few....