1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Roscoe

George Ticknor to Elisha Ticknor, May 1815; Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor (1876) 1:51.



Of the acquaintances whom I found or formed in Liverpool, I know not that you will he much interested to hear of any but Mr. Roscoe, whom you already know as an author, and probably as the Lorenzo of his native city for, like the happy subject he has chosen, he is himself a lover of, and a proficient in, the fine arts, and has done more to encourage and patronize learning than all his fellow-citizens put together. But he is now beginning to bend with age, and has retired from active pursuits, both as a man of letters and a banker. Still, however, he loves society, and his fine house (Allerton Hall, eight miles from Liverpool) is open to all strangers, — whose company he even solicits. There he lives in a style of splendor suited to his ample fortune; and, what is singular, he lives on the very estate where his father was gardener and his mother housekeeper. There I passed one day with him, and called on him afterwards and spent a couple of hours, and found him exceedingly simple in his manners, and uncommonly pleasant in his conversation.

For a man of sixty-five, his vivacity and enthusiasm were very remarkable, and were very remarkably expressed, as he showed me a large collection of Burns's original MSS., beginning with the earliest effusions, as contained in the copy-books mentioned, I believe, in his brother's letter to Dr. Currie, and ending with the last letter he ever wrote, — the letter to his wife, — which, if I recollect right, concludes Dr. Currie's collection. These papers, Mr. Roscoe seems to preserve with a sort of holy reverence, and he read me from among them several characteristic love-letters, and some Jacobite pieces of poetry, which have never been, and never will he published, with a degree of feeling which would have moved me in one of my own age, and was doubly interesting in an old man.