1835 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

L. L., in "English Poets" Southern Literary Messenger [Richmond] 1 (June 1835) 565.



Pope perfected the music and elegance of the English verse. Drawn out of chaos by old Chaucer; softened by Spenser; twisted into pliancy by Surrey; subtilized by Cowley; smoothed by Waller; strongly and beautifully modelled by Dryden; — it still wanted the finishing touch, and this, Pope gave. But he was more than an accomplished linguist. A skilful satirist, a touching eulogist, a philosophic tutor, and in fine, in spite of bodily infirmities, a good and amiable man, his life was like the passage of a health-infusing river through the sands of the earth. Useful to all within reach of its influence; when the stream curdled in its bed, the loss was deeply felt. And although the poet's works remain among us, it is only as the cedar and palm remain upon the banks of the once living stream. "So good a man was he, his presence doubled their beauty."