Christopher Smart

Joseph Dennie, "Headnote to Life of Christopher Smart" Port Folio [Philadelphia] 4 (10 March 1804) 75.

The life, and literary character of CHRISTOPHER SMART are not sufficiently known to American readers. From the first, we may learn to beware of the imprudence and excesses, which too frequently accompany, and deform the ardent poet, and in the second, we may find many honourable proofs of genius, learning and goodness. The sacred poetry of SMART is superior to that of all his contemporaries, and perhaps to many of his predecessors; his original Fables display invention and much of La Fontaine's ease; his translation of the elegant Latinity of Phaedrus is incomparably the best in the language; and exhibits many of the bewitching graces of the exquisite original. His Songs combine passion and poetry; and to a beginner, perplexed with the intricate involutions of the Roman phrase, or to the superficial adult scholar, no translation of HORACE, can be more usefully recommended than Mr. Smart's Prose version, which faithfully reports the sense of the original in terms always neat, and pure, and often elegant.