1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Parnell

Anonymous, in "Life of Parnell" Port Folio [Philadelphia] 1 (31 October 1801) 346.



The prose writings of Parnell, are his papers in the Spectator and Guardian, Essay on Homer, Life of Zoilus, and Remarks of Zoilus. In general, they discover no very great degree of force or comprehensiveness of mind; but they teem with imagination, and show great learning, good sense, and knowledge of mankind. — The Life of Zoilus was written at the request of his friends, and designed as a satire against Theobald and Dennis, with whom his club had been long at variance.

Considered as a poet, Parnell is not distinguished for strength of intellect, or fertility of invention. His taste was delicate, and refined by a careful perusal of the ancient classics. His admiration of those models of fine writing, led to an imitation so close, as often to preclude originality. There is little of novelty in the thoughts, the imagery, or the sentiments of Parnell. But the thoughts are just, the images, though not great, are beautiful, well selected, and happily applied; the sentiments, though not bold, are natural and agreeable. The moral tendency is excellent, the versification is sweet and harmonious, and the language pure, proper, and correct.