1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Jackson Pratt

Anonymous, Review of Pratt, The Tears of Genius; Critical Review 38 (July 1774) 75.



Whatever were the poetical abilities of Dr. Goldsmith, we do not hesitate to assert that his panegyrist possesses still greater. The doctor has given us only two poems within the space of several years; and we know, from good authority, that the composition of each employed him many months. — Do but mark how much inferior his talents have been to those of Mr. Melmoth, who, as he himself assures us in his dedication, began and finished his poem, which is longer than either of Dr. Goldsmith's, within a few hours. — So exceedingly fertile is the invention of a great poet!

Mr. Melmoth has represented Genius sitting under a cypress in the church-yard of Auburn, lamenting the deaths of Goldsmith, Gray, Young, Sterne, Shenstone, Lyttelton, and Hawkesworth; and the widow lady (for Mr. Melmoth acquaints us that Genius is a widow) very gravely charges that inflexible tyrant Death, with the murder of all those great men.

How far the good lady's anger may operate upon this "Cormorant Monster of the gorging Grave," as Mr. Melmoth styles him, we cannot say; but certainly her complaints must affect him, if he has any sensibility.

We hold the memory of Young in great veneration, but we cannot agree with Mr. Melmoth in ranking him above any other writer.

The verses on lord Lyttelton are, in our opinion, the best part of the publication; but our limits will not permit us to quote them.