An anonymous reviewer of Gosse's Life and Letters of John Donne and Jessopp's John Donne sought to assess Donne's style and influence by demonstrating the intellectual degeneracy of the age ('John Donne and his Contemporaries', Quarterly Review, 192 (1900), 220-35).
[The reviewer does not take a high view of Donne and his contemporaries and followers.]
We have here to deal with poets whose station as poets is not of the first rank, who had perhaps not a great deal to say, but who said it exquisitely. We do not like their manner? Then we had better not read them; but if we do, we shall be well advised in accepting their manner, and not wishing that they had written differently. How bad their exquisiteness could be is easily seen. Take such lines as these, describing a pair of weeping eyes:-
Two walking baths, two weeping motions;
Portable and compendious oceans.
Or George Herbert's-
Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye;
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.
For when through tasteless flat humidity
In dough-baked men some harmlessness we see,
Tis but his phlegm that's virtuous, and not he.
Ask me no more whither do stray
The golden atoms of the day,
For in pure love, Heav'n did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.