1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Edwards

Isaac D'Israeli, in Quarrels of Authors (1814) 3:295-97.



The personal animosity of a most ingenious Man was the real cause of the utter destruction of WARBURTON's critical reputation on Shakespeare. EDWARDS, the Author of the Canons of Criticism, when young and in the Army, was a visitor of ALLEN's of Prior-Park, the Patron of WARBURTON; and in those literary conversations which usually occupied their evenings, WARBURTON affected to shew his superiority in his acquaintance with the Greek Writers, never suspecting that a red coat covered more Greek than his own — which happened unluckily to be the case. Once, EDWARDS, in the Library, taking down a Greek Author, explained a passage in a manner which did not suit probably with some new theory of the great Inventor of so many; a contest arose, in which EDWARDS discovered how WARBURTON came by his illegitimate knowledge of Greek Authors: EDWARDS attempted to convince him that he really did not understand Greek, and that his knowledge, such as it was, was derived from French Translations — a provoking act of literary kindness, which took place in the presence of RALPH ALLEN, and his Niece, who, though they could not stand as umpires, did as witnesses. An incurable breech took place between the parties; and from this trifling altercation, EDWARDS produced the bitter Canons of Criticism, and WARBURTON those foaming Notes in the Dunciad.