1772 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Abraham Cowley

Richard Hurd, in Select works of Cowley (1772); Russell, Book of Authors (1860) 80-81.



To speak of this neglected writer as a poet. He had a quick and ready conception, the true enthusiasm of genius, and vast materials with which learning as well as fancy had supplied him for it to work upon. He had besides a prodigious command of expression, had a natural and copious flow of eloquence on every occasion, and understood our language in all its force and energy. Yet betwixt the native exuberance of his wit, which hurried him frequently on with conceits, and the epidemical contagion of that time, which possessed all writers with the love of points, of affected turns, and hard unnatural allusion, there are few of his poems which a man of just taste will read with admiration or even with pleasure.