1794 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Wolcot

Thomas James Mathias, in Pursuits of Literature (1794) 10-11n.



I this verse I allude to the great Theban, but there is an obscure person, stiling himself PETER PINDAR, of whom I shall say a few words. This man certainly possesses a mind by no means uninformed, and a species of humour; but it is exhausted by a repetition of the same manner, and nearly the same ideas, even to disgust; he has the power of rhyming ludicrously and is sometimes even gifted with poetry; and, finally, he is puffed up with a vanity and self-conceited importance, almost without a parallel. This obscure man has contrived, by these qualifications, to thrust himself upon the public notice, and become the scorn of every man of character and of virtue. Such is the blasphemy, such the impiety, the obscenity, the impudence, and the contempt of all decent respect, which pervade his numerous pamphlets in verse, that the reader is ill repaid by the lively sallies of humour which frequently animate this mass of cruelties. I form my judgment from his works, and not from acquaintance with the man. Yet I hear that he breathes a warm constitutional spirit, because, forsooth, he has told us, in some trumpery ode, of the necessity of a king, or a leg, or a nail; after he has perpetually reviled and held up to scorn every master principle by which government and society are maintained. I will not waste a verse on such a character; but say, honestly and plainly, that though I can often smile and sometimes be pleased with the humour and the manner, yet I think I perceive such a rooted depravity and malignity of heart, that from the consideration of his works, I can affirm almost unequivocally of this obscure man, in the words of the severest writer of antiquity,

Stupet hic vitio et fibris increvit opimum
Pingue, caret culpa, nescit quid perdat, et alto
Denersus summa rursum non bullit in unda.

N.B. This man's works (now published) amount in value to above four guineas; but we are informed, that a set may be had for TWO GUINEAS AND A HALF!!! — What an inducement to a purchaser!