THE PRAISE of Dryden first recommended to the public a poet who has since his death been solely immortalised by the praise of Pope. The lines of the latter, written in 1709, are familiar to most readers, but may be quoted here:
The qualities which Pope attributes to the person of Walsh are found in his writings, which have certainly been unduly neglected. The Propertius of the Restoration, he alone among the writers of his age understood the passion of love in an honourable and chivalric sense. Dryden, however, was almost the only person who perceived the moral beauty of Walshs verse, and certainly was alone in praising his very remarkable Defence of the Fair Sex, in which the young poet, in an age given up to selfish gallantry, recommended the honourable equality of the sexes and the views now understood as the extension of womens rights. He possessed little versatility, but much sweetness in the use of the heroic measure, and a certain delicate insight into emotion. His poem entitled Jealousy cannot be quoted here; but it is by far the most powerful of his productions, and a marvellously true picture of a heart tossed in an agony of jealousy and love. In studying the versification of Pope, the influence of Walsh upon the style of the younger and greater man should not be overlooked, and there will be found in Walsh couplets such as this
Embalmed in verse, through distant times they come,
Preserved, like bees within an amber tomb,
which Pope did not disdain to re-work on his own anvil into brighter shapes. It should be noted that Walsh is the author of the only sonnet written in English between Miltons, in 1658, and Wartons, about 1750.