1761 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Thomas Percy

William Shenstone to Mr. MacGowan, 24 September 1761; Letters, ed. Williams (1939) 597.



Mr. Percy, the collector and publisher, is a man of learning, taste, and indefatigable industry; is chaplain to the Earl of Sussex. It so happens, that he has himself a folio collection of this kind of MSS; which has many things truly curious, and from which he selects the best. I am only afraid that his fondness for antiquity should tempt him to admit pieces that have no other sort of merit. However, he has offered me a rejecting power, of which I mean to make considerable use. He is encouraged in his undertaking by Sam. Johnson, Garrick, and many persons of note, who lend him such assistance as in within their power. He has brought Mr. Jo. [for Thomas] Warton (the poetry professor) to ransack the Oxford libraries; and had resided and employed six amanuenses to transcribe from Pepys's Collection at Cambridge, consisting of five volumes of old ballads in folio.