1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gerard Langbaine

Anonymous, in Advertisement to Cibber's Lives of the Poets (1753); Censura Literaria 6 (1808) 354.



The lives of the Poets have been less perfectly given to the world, than the figure they have made in it, and the share they have in our admiration, naturally demand. The dramatic authors indeed have had some writers who have transmitted accounts of their works to posterity. Of these Langbaine is by far the most considerable. He was a man of extensive reading, and has taken a great deal of pains to trace the sources from which our poets have derived their plots; he has given a catalogue of their plays, and, as far as his reading served him, very accurately: he has much improved upon Winstanley and Phillips, and his account of the poets is certainly the best now extant. Jacob's performance is a most contemptible one; he has given himself no trouble to gain intelligence, and has scarcely transcribed Langbaine with accuracy.