1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Abraham Cowley

William Belsham, in Essays (1789; 1799) 2:508-09.



Had Cowley's judgment borne any proportion to his genius, he would unquestionably have been entitled to a very high rank in the public estimation, which indeed, while the public judgment was as yet immature, he actually enjoyed. In the present improved state of versification, we have few productions of the English muse more soft, more gay, more airy, than his Anacreontics, his Acme and Septimius, and his Chronicle. On the other hand, in the pathetic and plaintive stile, few pieces exhibit a more mournful slow of numbers than his Elegy on Harvey, the poem stiled the Complaint, and some others. He knew how to express as well as feel the most tender, as well as the most lively emotions of the soul.

Forgot his Epic, nay Pindaric art,
Yet still we love the language of his heart.
[Alexander Pope]