1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Oldys

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Censura Literaria 1 (1805) i-ii, 445.



In 1737 William Oldys published in six Numbers "The British Librarian, exhibiting a compendious Review or Abstract of our most scarce, useful, and valuable Books in all Sciences as well in manuscript as in print, with many characters, historical and critical, of their antagonists, &c." Of this, Campbell, in his "Rational Amusement," speaks in the following terms: "There was a design," says he, "set on foot some years ago which would have perfectly answered the purpose (of properly characterizing books); I mean the British Librarian, of which, however, there is but one volume, though nothing in that kind was ever so well received. If its author, who is of all men living the most capable, would pursue and perfect this plan, he would do equal justice to the living and to the dead."...

The Biographical Memoirs, I have inserted, have been principally drawn from the minute and intelligent inquiries, and indefatigable labours of Oldys, preserved in the interleaved copy of his Langbaine. Many of them are curious, and though parts have already been given to the public in the Biographia Dramatica, yet as they are the originals from whence that work borrowed them, it became not only amusing but useful to record them in their own form and words.