1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Chalmers

George Steevens to Thomas Percy, 30 January 1797; Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the XVIII Century (1817-58) 7:12.



Mr. Chalmers has published a most virulent invective against Mr. Malone, in an octavo containing 628 pages. One flower from this Scottish nosegay I will take out for your Lordship to smell at. It is a fair specimen of the politeness with which our friend here and his noble friend in Ireland are treated. "His best apology is, while the Believers require none, that he was misled by the intemperance of his zeal to reason from a fancied uniformity, which being only a will-o'-th'-wisp, led him headlong into 'the great bog of Allen.' Here, with Lord Charlemont by his side, he plunges for a while. At length they flounder through, &c." — Can your Smock-alley, my Lord, or our St. Giles's, produce any thing more low and vulgar than this is? We, who are the surviving editors of Shakspeare, are not only censured in the lump, but absolutely belied. The backs of all our cats are consequently up. My own grimalkin tail is become as thick as a bottle-brush. Malone, however, may have ample reprisals; for I hardly ever saw a book with more or more ludicrous misapprehensions and mistakes in it. To use the words of Pope, "Some daemon whisper'd, Chalmers, have a taste."