1693 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

John Dryden, in Of the Original and Progress of Satire (1693); Of Dramatic Poesy and other Essays, ed. Watson (1962) 2:144.



Has not Virgil changed the manners of Homer's heroes in his Aeneis? Certainly he has, and for the better. For Virgil's age was more civilized, and better bred; and he writ according to the politeness of the Rome, under the reign of Augustus Caesar, not to the rudeness of Agamemnon's age, or the times of Homer. Why should we offer to confine our bodies to one fashion of apparel? Would not Donne's satires, which abound with so much wit, appear more charming if he had taken care of his words, and of his numbers? But he followed Horace so very close that of necessity he must fall with him. And I may safely say it of this present age, that if we were not so great wits as Donne, yet certainly we are better poets.