1737 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Allott

William Oldys, in The British Muse (1737) 1:viii-ix.



England's Parnassus; or, The choicest Flowers of our modern Poets, &c. It is dedicated to Sir Thomas Monson by the author, who, in most of the copies, writes himself R. A. but in one or two I have met with, there is R. Allot, of which name I find a bookseller at that time, but know not whether he was the collector. He has, indeed, been more liberal in his entertainment, for the generality, than the former [John Bodenham's Bel-Vedere]; for he does not mince his quotations, and is not so shy of his authors; but his performance is evidently defective in several other respects. He cites no more than the names of his authors to their verses, who are most of them now so obsolete, that not knowing what they wrote, we can have no recourse to their works, if still extant. And, perhaps, this might be done designedly, to prevent some, tho' not all, readers from discovering his indiscretion in maiming some thoughts, his presumption in altering others, and his error in ascribing to one poet what had been wrote by another. This artifice, if real, does not prevent us from observing his ill judgment in the choice of his authors; and in his extracts from them, his negligence in repeating the same passages in different places, and particularly his unpardonable haste and irregularity, in throwing almost the last half of his book out of its alphabetical order, into a confused jumble of topicks without order or method. This book, bad as it is, suggests one good observation however upon the use and advantage of such collections, which is, that they may prove more successful in preserving the best parts of some authors, than their works themselves.