1816
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On Poetry.

Fragments of Essays.

Chandos Leigh


Chandos Leigh favorably contrasts the active virtues that are the subject of Spenser's allegory in the Faerie Queene with William Wordsworth's contemplative verses. Leigh looked favourably upon Wordsworth however; in the preface to Juvenile Verses (1815) he describes Byron, Moore, and Wordsworth as "the great triumvirate of Poetry" p. iv. Not seen.




The contemplative virtues are of a very negative description. The celebrated Spenser has surrounded his heroes with temptations of every sort, which they subdue; their virtues are tried by no insignificant antagonists. Such characters (though allegorical) furnish out better materials for a knowledge of vice and virtue, than the deepest soliloquies of eremites and pilgrims. To lay bare the workings of the human mind, even when it is speculative, is a difficult task; but it is far more difficult to disply the same passions modified according to the operations of external agency by different circumstances, to unfold the continual struggles of opposite feelings, and thence to derive the most likely consequences. Epic poetry comprehends the whole circuit of human passions. . . .


[pp. 74-75]