1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

Anonymous, "Anecdote of Dr. Joseph Warton" Universal Magazine NS 8 (July 1807) 28-29.



This elegant scholar was invited, while Master of Winchester, to meet a relative of Pope, who, from her connexion with the family, he was taught to believe could furnish him with much valuable and private information. Incited by all that eagerness which so strongly characterised him, he on his introduction sat immediately close to the lady, and by enquiring her consanguinity to Pope, entered at once on the subject; when the following dialogue took place, "Pray, Sir, did not you write a book about my cousin Pope?" "Yes, Madam." "They tell me 'twas vastly clever. He wrote a great many plays, did not he?" "I have heard only of one attempt, Madam." "Oh no; I beg your pardon, that was Mr. Shakspeare; I always confound them." This was too much even for the Doctor's gallantry; he replied, "Certainly, Madam;" and with a bow, changed his seat to the contrary side of the room, where he sat, to the amusement of a large party, with such a mingled countenance of archness and chagrin, such a struggle between his taste for the ridiculous, and his natural politeness, as could be pourtrayed only be his speaking and expressive countenance. In a few minutes he quitted the company, but not without taking leave of the lady in the most polite and unaffected manner.