1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Farmer

B. N. Turner in New Monthly Magazine, 17 October 1818; Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the XVIII Century (1817-58) 6:154.



The long-wished-for interview of these unknown friends was uncommonly joyous on both sides. After the salutations, said Johnson, "Mr. Farmer, I understand you have a large collection of very rare and valuable books." Farmer. "Why yes, Sir, to be sure I have plenty of all such reading as was never read." Johnson. "Will you favour me with a specimen, Sir?" Farmer, considering for a moment, reached down Markham's Booke of Armorie, and turning to a particular page, presented it to the Doctor, who, with rolling head, attentively perused it. The passage having been previously pointed out to myself, I am luckily enabled to lay it before the reader, because I find it quoted, "totidem verbis," as a great curiosity, which it certainly is, at line 101 of the first part of The Pursuits of Literature. The words in question are said to be the conclusion of the first chapter of Markham's Booke, intituled, "The difference between Charles and Gentlemen," and is as follows: "From the offspring of gentlemanly Japhet came Abraham, Moses, Aaron, and the Prophets, &c. &c. — and also the king of the right line of Mary, of whom that only absolute gentleman, Jesus, gentleman by his mother Mary, Princesse of Coat Armorie," &c. Toward the conclusion of which unaccountable and almost incredible folly, the Doctor's features began most forcibly to remind me of Homer's [Greek characters]; and if you can conceive a cast of countenance expressive at once of both pleasantry and horror, that was the one which our sage assumed when he exclaimed, "Now I am shocked, Sir — now I am shocked!" which was only answered by Farmer with his usual ha! ha! ha! for even blasphemy, where it is unintentional, may be so thoroughly ridiculous as merely to excite the laugh of pity!