1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Farmer

Joseph Cooper Walker to John Pinkerton, 14 January 1797; Pinkerton, Literary Correspondence (1840) 1:431-32.



After several years of neglect, I lately took up Dr. Farmer's Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare. It is a very ingenious little work; but it rather amuses than convinces. Nobody doubts Shakspeare's ignorance of Greek; nor ought any body to question his knowledge of Latin, since his envious friend. Dr. Johnson [sic], acknowledged he had "a little." The attempts to prove him unacquainted with French and Italian are feeble; they are arrows from the hand of debility. The orthography of Shakspeare's French is incorrect; therefore he did not understand the language. The orthography of his English is not more correct; yet he is generally allowed to have understood English.