1812 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Ritson

George Allen to John Nichols, 1812 ca.; Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 8:350.



This snarling but very industrious and intelligent Critic is well known in the world of letters. My father first gave him an introduction to the British Museum, in which his labour commenced. I have lived in the same house with him two or three days at a time, at Mr. Harrison's in Durham; and, to do him justice, he was very good company; but it may be accounted for, as he considered his Host as his infallible Oracle in black-letter research. I met him once at a gentleman's table in London; and, being for that year Steward for the Charity instituted at Durham for the benefit of Widows and Orphans of the Clergy, I ventured to ask him for a benefaction, as I knew he had property in the County. He snarled furiously, and I was afraid would have bit too; but he answered, with less wit and acrimony than I expected, "The Drones in the Cathedral at Durham ought to maintain their own brats!"

I send you two of his Letters. I had more of them; but have given them lately to his nephew, who promises a Life. How this promise will be performed, I cannot venture to surmise. But I think enough is exhibited of his abilities and temper in his Works generally, and more in his publication on "Animal Food" than any friend would wish to have seen.