1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Ritson

Alexander Chalmers, in Life of Warton; Works of the English Poets (1810) 18:81.



It is almost needless to say that the progress of Warton's History afforded the highest gratification to every learned and elegant mind. Ritson, however, whose learning appears to have been dear to him only as it administered to his illiberality, attacked our author in a pamphlet, entitled Observations on the three first volumes of the History of English Poetry, in a familiar Letter to the Author, 1782. In this, while he pointed out some real inaccuracies, for which he might have received the thanks of the historian, his chief object seems to have been to violate, by low scurrility and personal acrimony, every principle of liberal criticism, and of that decorous interchange of respect which men of learning, not otherwise acquainted, preserve between one another. What could have provoked all this can be known only to those who have dipped into a heart rendered callous by a contempt for every thing sacred and social.