1734 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lewis Theobald

Thomas Hearne, 17 May 1734; Reliquae Hearniae, ed. Bliss (1869) 3:137.



Mr. Theobalds (Mr. Baker tells me) is a very genteel man, and has show'd himself a scholar in his Shakespeare, which I just run over, and might (were it not quite out of my way) have made observations. I noted, however, that he had taken too great liberty. I wish rather he had follow'd the first editions very exactly, be they faulty or not. Shakespeare wanted learning. He was guilty of pseudo-graphy, sometimes perhaps designedly. He (Mr. Theobalds) is too bold in bringing his own conjectures into the text, which (it may be) will lay him too open to his adversaries, and make them say Shakespeare wants as much to be restored as ever, and that his edition is not of much greater authority than that of Mr. Pope, who is much inferior to Mr. Theobalds in learning. Mr. Theobalds hath all along, very often justly enough, discovered, and reflected upon Mr. Pope's defects, which will, without doubt, nettle Mr. Pope, who, however, may thank himself, he having in his Dunciad (a scurrilous piece against many of the greatest men of the age) treated Mr. Theobalds in a very barbarous manner, for which Mr. Pope is much blamed. Mr. Theobalds was not of the university of Cambridge, nor, I presume, of any. He wrote a play before he was nineteen years of age, and has since translated several from the Greek. He had a very able schoolmaster, Mr. Ellis of our university, and some while of the university of Cambridge, under whom he was well grounded.