1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Mallet

Joseph Mawbey, in "Anecdotes of Thomas Cooke" Gentleman's Magazine 61 (Supplement 1791) 1183.



Cooke never spoke well of Mallet. Their manners and general deportment were extremely unlike. The latter appeared to me to be a distant, formal, precise man, affecting the manners of an old courtier: the former forward, familiar, blunt, and sometimes coarse. He used to relate an anecdote of Mallet, which shewed his great dislike to him. Mallet, he asserted (and, I believe, from other information, truly), when he first came from Scotland, called himself "Malock," "Mallock," and afterwards "Mallet." Cooke, Thomson, Mallet, and half a dozen other literary characters, in the early part of their lives spent an evening at a tavern together, in the course of which some of the company (and Cooke for one) reflected on Mallet, in terms of great severity, for his change of name, and for impudently assuming that of one of the first families in all England; for such the Mallets of Somersetshire were. After he had been abused for some time, Thomson, Mallet's countryman and friend, broke silence, and with a Scottish accent (which Cooke used to imitate very ably) said, "Gentlemen, I think you bear too hard on my countryman, Mr. Mallet; for he was a foundling under the Glasgow brig, and had therefore a right to assume any name he pleased; and would you not blame him if he had not taken a good one?" So pleasant an anecdote, from a man so perfectly well-tempered and inoffensive as Thomson was, restored the good-humour of the company, and they all parted in a friendly manner.