1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Henry Ireland

Thomas James Mathias, in Pursuits of Literature (1798) 96-97 & n.



What though not Vatican unbars the door,
No Palatine to Ireland yields it's store,
Treasures he has, and many a prouder tome
Than kings to Granta gave or Bodley's dome.
Pages on which the eye of Shakspeare por'd,
The notes he made, the readings he restor'd,
The very gibes he scribbled, and the joke
That from the laughing bard on margins broke,
But where's the dark array, the vesture plain,
With many a mould'ring venerable stain?
All fled: a wonder opens to our view;
The shield is scower'd, and the books are new:
"In her own hues great Nature best is seen,"
So Ireland spoke; and made the black — One Green.

Mr. Ireland has not thought proper to preserve the books of Shakspeare's Library in their original and curious old black binding, (as could have been wished;) but, like the nurse employed by Dr. Cornelius Scriblerus, he has scowered them well, and made them all new; and with singular felicity has re-bound them ALL in GREEN morocco!!! — N.B. I have written this whole passage in the Poem and the Notes, to perpetuate the memory of this extraordinary event in literary history, which seems to be passing into oblivion. — I cannot think that any subject relating to Shakspeare should be wholly disregarded.