1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Denham

Philip Neve, in Cursory Remarks on Ancient English Poets (1789) 54.



Of the several claims of Sir John Denham to the regard of posterity, that of having improved our versification is the most popular. Though his title on this head be undisputed, he enjoys it in common with Waller, and in some measure with Fairfax: and Drummond, almost before Denham's birth, had written in numbers, that stand nearly in parallel with the most harmonious lines of Pope. But Denham's fame rests not here; he gave, in the short Preface to his second Book of Virgil, the best rules for translation, that had then appeared, or that will perhaps ever appear. His Cooper's Hill is universally admired. The species was new: and here he stands as an original. In it the apostrophe to the Thames has never received too great an encomium; and is not, perhaps, at the day, any where equalled.