1790 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Spence

Edmond Malone, circa 1790; Maloniana, in Sir James Prior, Life of Edmond Malone (1860) 430.



When Spence carried his preface to Gorboduck, which I think was published in 1736, to Pope, he asked the poet his opinion of it. Pope said, "It would do very well; there was nothing 'pert' or 'low' in it." Spence was satisfied with this praise, which however was an implied censure on his other writings, and not without foundation; for in his Essay on the Odyssey (the only piece of his that I at present recollect to have read) he appears very fond of the familiar vulgarisms of common talk. In this respect he is the reverse of Johnson. The book, however, is not without merit. Mr. Cambridge, who is now above seventy and was acquainted with Spence, says he was a 'poor creature' though a very worthy man.