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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

VIII. The Court Poets

§ 11. His Songs

But Sedley had his happy moments, in which he discarded the poor artifices of his muse, and wrote like a free and untrammelled poet. Phyllis is my only Joy, apart from its metrical ingenuity, has a lyrical sincerity which has kept it fresh unto this day. Written to be sung, it is the work not of a fop but of a poet. A near rival is “Not Celia that I juster am,” memorable for its epigrammatic conclusion,

  • When Change itself can give no more,
  • ’T is easy to be true.
  • When he condescends to lyrical patriotism, Sedley is seen at his worst. Not even his hatred of James II can palliate such doggerel as
  • Behold the happy day again,
  • Distinguish’d by the joy in every face;
  • This day great William’s life began
  • Soul of our war and guardian of our peace.
  • For the rest, Rochester’s criticism of Sedley is not without truth. He praised the gentle Art,
  • That can with a resistless Power impart
  • The loosest wishes to the chastest Heart.
  • Sedley’s early ambition could not be more justly or delicately expressed.