1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Rymer

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sigs Cc6v-Dd.



THOMAS RYMER Esq. was born in Yorkshire, and educated at the University of Cambridge, but in what College I know not. — On his settling in London, he became a Member of the Society of Gray's Inn, and, in 1692, succeeded Mr. Shadwell as Historiographer to King William III. — He was a Man of great Learning and a Lover of Poetry; but, when he sets up for a Critic, seems to Prove that he has very few of the Requisites for that Character; and was indeed almost totally disqualified for it, by his Want of Candour. — The Severities which he exerted, in his View of the Tragedies of the Last Age, against the inimitable Shakespeare, are scarcely to be forgiven, and must surely be considered as a kind of Sacrilege committed on the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Muses. And, that his own Talents for dramatic Poetry were extremely inferior to those of the Persons whose Writings he has with so much rigour attacked, will be apparent to any one who will take the Trouble of perusing one Play, which he has given to the World, entitled Edgar. Trag. But, altho' we cannot subscribe either to his Fame or his Judgment as a Poet or Critic, yet it cannot be denied that he was a very excellent Antiquary and Historian. — Some of his Pieces relating to our Constitution are extremely good; and his well-known, valuable, and most useful Work, entitled The Foedera, printed in seventeen Volumes in Folio, will stand an everlasting Monument of his Worth, his indefatigable Assiduity, and Clearness of Judgment as an historical Compiler. He died on the 14th Day of December 1713, and was buried in the Parish Church of St. Clement's-Danes.