Lectures on the English Poets eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about Lectures on the English Poets.
eldest moss,
      The rude portals that give light
      More to terror than delight,
      This my chamber of neglect,
      Wall’d about with disrespect,
      From all these and this dull air,
      A fit object for despair,
      She hath taught me by her might
      To draw comfort and delight. 
      Therefore, thou best earthly bliss,
      I will cherish thee for this. 
      Poesie; thou sweet’st content
      That ere Heav’n to mortals lent: 
      Though they as a trifle leave thee,
      Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee,
      Though thou be to them a scorn,
      That to nought but earth are born: 
      Let my life no longer be
      Than I am in love with thee. 
      Though our wise ones call thee madness,
      Let me never taste of sadness,
      If I love not thy maddest fits,
      Above all their greatest wits. 
      And though some too seeming holy,
      Do account thy raptures folly,
      Thou dost teach me to contemn
      What makes knaves and fools of them.”

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[6] Written in the Fleet Prison.
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LECTURE V. ON THOMSON AND COWPER.

Thomson, the kind-hearted Thomson, was the most indolent of mortals and of poets.  But he was also one of the best both of mortals and of poets.  Dr. Johnson makes it his praise that he wrote “no line which dying he would wish to blot.”  Perhaps a better proof of his honest simplicity, and inoffensive goodness of disposition, would be that he wrote no line which any other person living would wish that he should blot.  Indeed, he himself wished, on his death-bed, formally to expunge his dedication of one of the Seasons to that finished courtier, and candid biographer of his own life, Bub Doddington.  As critics, however, not as moralists, we might say on the other hand—­“Would he had blotted a thousand!”—­The same suavity of temper and sanguine warmth of feeling which threw such a natural grace and genial spirit of enthusiasm over his poetry, was also the cause of its inherent vices and defects.  He is affected through carelessness:  pompous from unsuspecting simplicity of character.  He is frequently pedantic and ostentatious in his style, because he had no consciousness of these vices in himself.  He mounts upon stilts, not out of vanity, but indolence.  He seldom writes a good line, but he makes up for it by a bad one.  He takes advantage of all the most trite and mechanical common-places of imagery and diction as a kindly relief to his Muse, and as if he thought them quite as good, and likely to be quite as acceptable to the reader, as his own poetry.  He did not think the difference worth putting himself to the trouble of accomplishing.  He had too little art to conceal his art:  or did not even seem to know that there was any occasion for it.  His art is as naked and undisguised as his nature; the one is as pure and genuine as the

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Lectures on the English Poets from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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