1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Middleton

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. X6v.



Mr. Thomas Middleton was a very voluminous Writer, and lived so late as the Time of Charles I. yet I can meet with very few Particulars relating to him; for, notwithstanding that he had certainly shewn considerable Genius in those Plays which are unquestionably all his own, and which are very numerous, yet he seems in his Life-Time to have owed the greatest Part of the Reputation he acquired to his Connection with Jonson, Fletcher, Massinger, and Rowley, with whom he was concerned in the writing of several dramatic Pieces; but to have been consider'd in himself as a Genius of a very inferior Class, and concerning whom the World was not greatly interested in the pursuing of any Memoirs. — Yet, surely, it is a Proof of Merit sufficient to establish him in a Rank far from the most contemptible among our dramatic Writers, that a Set of men of such acknowledged Abilities consider'd him as deserving to be admitted a joint Labourer with them in the Fields of of poetical Fame; and more especially by Fletcher and Jonson; the first of whom, like a widowed Muse, could not be supposed readily to admit another Partner after the Loss of his long and well-beloved Mate Beaumont; and the latter, who entertained so high an Opinion of his own Talents as scarcely to admit any Brother near the Throne, and would hardly have permitted the clear Waters of his own Heliconian Springs to have been muddied by the Mixture of any Streams that did not apparently flow from the same Source, and, however narrow their Currents, were not the genuine Produce of Parnassus.