Alexander Pope (1688-1744) takes Spenser primarily as a pastoralist. His own Pastorals he no doubt considered as being at least on a par with the Shepheardes Calender (and compare Walsh, in Pope's Correspondence, ed. G. Sherburn [Oxford, 1956], p. 21), but his criticisms here are not to be taken seriously. Pope was after all an admirer of Hughes, and incidental remarks betray the seriousness of his admiration for Spenser (for example those reported in Spence's Observations, Anecdotes…, ed. J.M. Osborn [Oxford, 1966], I. 171, 178). See also No. 167.
(a) From A Discourse on Pastoral Poetry in Works (1717), pp. 8-10 (written 1704); repr. The Poems of Alexander Pope (Twickenham Edition) I (1961), 31-3:
Spenser's Calendar, in Mr Dryden's opinion, is the most complete work of this kind which any Nation has produced ever since the time of Virgil. Not but that he may be thought imperfect in some few points. His Eclogues are somewhat too long, if we compare them with the ancients. He is sometimes too allegorical, and treats of matters of religion in a pastoral style as Mantuan had done before him. He has employ'd the Lyric measure, which is contrary to the practice of the old Poets. His Stanza is not still the same, nor always well chosen. This last may be the reason his expression is sometimes not concise enough: for the Tetrastic has obliged him to extend his sense to the length of four lines, which would have been more closely confin'd in the couplet.
In the manners, thoughts, and characters, he comes near to Theocritus himself; tho' notwithstanding all the care he has taken, he is certainly inferior in his Dialect. For the Doric had its beauty and propriety in the time of Theocritus; it was used in part of Greece, and frequent in the mouths of many of the greatest persons; whereas the old English and country phrases of Spenser were entirely obsolete, or spoken only by
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Publication information: Book title: Edmund Spenser, the Critical Heritage. Contributors: R. M.Cummings - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 235.
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