1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

Richard Cumberland, in Memoirs (1806-07; 1856) 64-65.



I well remember, when I was newly come to college, with what avidity I read the Greek tragedians, and with what reverence I swallowed the absurdities of their chorus, and was bigoted to their cold character and rigid unities; and when Mason, of Pembroke-Hall, published his Elfrida after their model, though I did not quite agree with him, as to his choice of plot, or the perfect legitimacy of his chorus, yet I was warm in my praises of that generally admired production, and in imitation of it planned and composed an entire drama, of which Caractacus was the hero, with bards and Druids attached to it as a chorus, for whom I wrote odes in the manner of Elfrida. I have this manuscript now in my possession, and it is flattering to my choice of subject that Mason, with whom I had no communication or correspondence, should afterwards strike upon the same character for the hero of his drama; but though in this particular I have the good chance to agree with him, in point of plot I strayed equally from him and from the history, for, not writing with any thought of publication, I wove into my drama some characters and several incidents perfectly fictitious.