1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gerard Hamilton

Anonymous, "Anecdote" St. James's Chronicle (14 June 1774).



A certain ingenious but phlegmatic and whimsical Gentleman well known by the Name of Single Speech, was sometime ago persuading a Person whose Circumstances might have made him a Slave to the Whim or Caprice of any Man possessed of a full Purse, to live the Life of a Hermit for seven Years without conversing with any Person whatsoever; and promised him when the Time was expired a handsome Annuity for the Remainder of his Life: Among other Arguments to induce the needy Wretch to comply with his Humour, here, says he, attend to these fine Lines of Milton:

—At length my weary Age
Finds out the peaceful Hermitage;
The hairy Gown and mossy Cell,
Where I may sit and rightly Spell
Of every Star which Heaven doth shew,
And every Herb that sips the Dew,
Till old Experience do attain
To something like prophetic Strain.

And then, cries the Man:

In occult Sciences grown rich,
The Boys will hoot me for a Witch.

Mr. Single Speech felt the Rebuke, and he desisted from pressing so tyrannical a Proposal.