The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

III. Pope

§ 5. Windsor Forest

Windsor Forest (1713) belongs, in great part, to the period of the Pastorals. It is no longer a purely literary exercise, but an attempt to apply observation and reading to a larger theme. The design, for which Pope was indebted to Denham’s Cooper’s Hill, was to combine a description of the countryside and field-sports with the historical and literary associations of the district. He was induced to add after 1. 290 the lines by Lord Lansdowne (George Granville), who was anxious that he should praise the peace of Utrecht. It must be confessed that Pope is not strong in the appreciation of natural scenery, although Wordsworth was pleased to allow that a passage or two in Windsor Forest contained new images of external nature. Pope’s treatment is largely conventional, and the atmosphere is spoilt by one of the worst faults of pseudoclassicism—the Mars-Bacchus-Apollo element. The plumage of the dying pheasant may be over-elaborated; still, it is distinctly pleasing to find a recognition that other of God’s creatures besides man have a right to enjoy themselves on this earth. But, in his pastoral and sylvan efforts, Pope had now clearly shown that, as a nature poet, he was not in advance of his age. Thomson was yet to come.