1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Ritson

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 73 (October 1803) 987-88.



Joseph Ritson, esq. a conveyancer, of Gray's inn, deputy high-bailiff of the duchy of Lancaster, and a man of information, but more to be commended for his acuteness than for his good-breeding or candour. His first publication was, an anonymous quarto pamphlet of Observations on the Three Volumes of Warton's History of English Poetry; one of the most illiberal productions we ever recollect to have seen. He wrote, also anonymously, three sets of remarks on the Editors of Shakspeare: 1. on Mr. Steevens's edition, 1778, intituled, Remarks, critical and illustrative, on the Text and Notes of the last Edition of Shakspeare, 8vo; 2. The Quip modest, &c. on Mr. Reed's republication of that edition, particularly illiberal; 3. Cursory Criticisms, &c. on Mr. Malone's edition. In 1788 he published with his name a well-executed translation, with notes, of the Hymn to Venus, ascribed to Homer. A select Collection of English Songs, in 3 vols. 8vo. Antient Songs, from the time of Henry VIII to the Revolution, 8vo. A volume of pieces of antient popular poetry, 8vo. The English Anthology, a selection of poetry, in 3 small octavo volumes. Robin Hood; a Collection of all the antient Poems, Songs, and Ballads, now extant relative to that celebrated Outlaw. To which are added, Historical Anecdotes of his Life, 2 vols, 8vo, 1795. A Collection of Scotch Songs, with the genuine Musick, 2 vols. 12mo. Biographica Poetica: a Catalogue of English Poets of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries; with a short Account of their Works, 1801, 12mo. He put his name to Antient English Metrical Romances; selected and published by Joseph Ritson, 3 vols. 12mo, 1802. These two last publications are disfigured by an affectation of singularity in orthography, and are, perhaps. the least interesting of his publications.