1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas James Mathias

Thomas Green, 8 September 1797; Extracts from the Diary of a Lover of Literature (1810) 43.



Finished, with much interest, the Pursuits of Literature. The text is frequently stiff and intricate; but the prefaces and notes perstringe with acute criticism and poignant wit, whatever has, of late years, obtained celebrity in politics or literature. The Author is unquestionably a good scholar, and has formed his taste on classic models: his knowledge of modern works, and of the leading characters of the day, and the secret history of both, is extensive and curious. In politics, he seems a temperate Burkite; but with a strange obliquity from this standard, in a ridiculous alarm, which he cherishes, of the return of Popery into the country, through the influence of the French emigrant priests: his jealous orthodoxy he evinces in a fierce attack on Dr. Geddes for questioning the inspiration of the historical parts of the Bible: he appears fully to understand, and decidedly loaths, the New System of Morals, with all its votaries: and he displays a mortal antipathy to the frippery of affected refinement, from the Della Cruscans, to hot-pressed vellum paper. — With an affectation of concealment, he throws out many hints, which, if not designed to mislead, might surely conduct to his detection. — His character of a true Poet, in the 4th. Part, is itself animated with a high spirit of poetry, very different from the general texture of his Satire.