1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Ritson

William Mason to Edmond Malone, 26 May 1792; Sir James Prior, Life of Edmond Malone (1860) 184.



I think you might well have spared the trouble of taking notice of so poor an antagonist as you have in the pamphlet [Letter to Richard Farmer] you have done me the honour to send, and to whom I think you have given more than ample confutation. I guess him to be the same person who a few years ago treated the late Mr. T. Warton with the same sort of scurrility, but I neither knew nor wish to know his name. I should (were I you) have contented myself with calling him in Shaksperian phrase—

A captious and unteemable sieve (illegible).

But here, you see, I adopt a reading which you have discarded for this reason. To teem or team (I know not which is the right spelling) is a northern verb used for pouring one thing through another, or into another. That species of sieve or (illegible) which separates flour from bran is with us called a "temze." Hence, therefore, the word might be altered to "untemzible," a sieve which will let nothing pass through it.