1838 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nahum Tate

Thomas De Quincey, in "Shakespeare" (1838); Works (1889-90) 4:22.



To begin with Mr. Nahum Tate: — This poor grub of literature, if he did really speak of Lear as "an obscure piece, recommended to his notice by a friend," of which we must be allowed to doubt, was then uttering a conscious falsehood. It happens that Lear was one of the few Shakesperian dramas which had kept the stage unaltered. But it is easy to see a mercenary motive in such an artifice as this. Mr. Nahum Tate is not of a class of whom it can be safe to say that they are "well known:" they and their desperate tricks are essentially obscure, and good reason he has to exult in the felicity of such obscurity; for else this same vilest of travesties, Mr. Nahum Tate's Lear, would consecrate his name to everlasting scorn. For himself, he belonged to the age of Dryden rather than of Pope; he "flourished," if we can use such a phrase of one who was always withering, about the era of the Revolution; and his Lear, we believe, was arranged in the year 1682. But the family to which he belongs is abundantly recorded in the Dunciad; and his own name will be found amongst its catalogues of heroes.