in my judgment, more simple, natural, and, above all, more pathetic than those of Spenser
, who sometimes strains the shepherd's pipe with a blast that would better suit the trumpet.
Sidney had the good sense to feel that it was unsophisticated sentiment rather than rusticity of phrase that befitted such themes.1
He recognized the distinction between simplicity and vulgarity, which Wordsworth
was so long in finding out, and seems to have divined the fact that there is but one kind of English that is always appropriate and never obsolete, namely, the very best.2
With the single exception of Thomas Campion
, his experiments in adapting classical metres to English verse are more successful than those of his contemporaries.
Some of his elegiacs are not ungrateful to the ear, and it can hardly be doubted that Coleridge
borrowed from his eclogue of Strephon and Klaius the pleasing movement of his own Catullian Hendecasyllabics
, perhaps out of deference to Sidney, also tried his hand at English hexameters, the introduction of which was claimed by his friend Gabriel Harvey
, who thereby assured to himself an immortality of grateful remembrance.
But the result was a series of jolts and jars, proving that the language had run off the track.
He seems to have been half conscious of it himself, and there is a gleam of mischief in what he writes to Harvey
: ‘I like your late English hexameter so exceedingly well that I also enure my pen sometime in that kind, which I find indeed, as I have often heard ’