1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Thomson

Alexander Thomson to Thomas Percy, 8 September 1800; Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the XVIII Century (1817-58) 8:343-44.



Allow me to offer you my warmest acknowledgements for the copy of the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, which lately reached me through the kind intervention of our mutual friend Dr. Anderson; and suffer me also to assure your Lordship, that you could not have bestowed such a mark of attention on any one by whom it would have been either more gratefully received or more highly valued. The literary pre-eminence of the venerable donor, and the intrinsic merit of the work itself, must indeed have rendered such a gift sufficiently flattering to any person of common taste and common sensibility; but to me it was attended with a peculiar charm, from its complete coincidence with my favourite pursuits. I have long meditated a very arduous undertaking, no less than a History of Scottish Poetry, and have already made considerable progress in the critical part of the first volume, which will bring it down to the reign of James IV. the Augustan aera of our vernacular literature. In the prosecution of such a project, your Lordship may easily imagine of what utility these precious volumes must be; and with what delight I saw myself in possession of so rich a treasure of poetical antiquities, which promised in future to become the object of my frequent reference, and almost daily consultation.

I hope that the small volume of poetry, which was transmitted to your Lordship at my request by Dr. Anderson, had the good fortune to afford you some amusement, and to obtain some share of your approbation, the assurance of which would gratify me highly. It was only the opening of an extensive plan, in which since that time I have made further progress, as the whole series of my Roman Pictures is now almost ready for the press. I am rather uncertain about the time of publication; but whenever it takes place, I shall do myself the honour of soliciting your acceptance of another volume.