1856 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas James Mathias

Samuel Rogers, in Table Talk (1856) 134-35.



There is no doubt that Mathias wrote The Pursuits of Literature; and a dull poem it is; though the notes are rather piquant.

Gilbert Wakefield used to say, he was certain that Rennell and Glynn assisted Mathias in it; and Wakefield was well acquainted with all the three.

Steevens once said to Mathias, "Well, sir, since you deny the authorship of The Pursuits of Literature, I need have no hesitation in declaring the person who wrote it a liar and a blackguard."

In one of the notes was a statement that Beloe had received help from Porson in translating Alciphron. Porson accordingly went to Beloe, and said, "As you know that I did not help you, pray, write to Mathias and desire him to alter that note." In a subsequent edition the note was altered.

One day I asked Mathias if he wrote The Pursuits of Literature; and he answered, "My dear friend, can you suppose that I am the author of that poem, when there is no mention made in it of yourself?" Some time after, I happened to call on Lord Besborough, who told me, that, as he was illustrating The Pursuits of Literature with portraits, he wanted to get one of me. "Why," exclaimed I, "there is not mention in it of me!" He then turned to the note where I am spoken of as the banker who "dreams on Parnassus."