1930 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Williams

Roy Benjamin Clark, in William Gifford, Tory Satirist (1930) 68-69.



Another victim of the Baeviad was John Williams, alias Anthony Pasquin. Though not one of the Della Cruscans, he was nevertheless attacked in the satire, and he sough revenge by means of the law. He was the most despicable individual, but not the most insignificant writer, that came under Gifford's notice. Not only was he held in contempt by most respectable people, but even John Wolcot, a man of his own stamp, could not endure him. Much of his verse is made up of villification of the character of prominent people. He had a keen pen, and his ridicule was feared by actors and painters, against whom he directed a sort of literary blackmail. But he also wrote a considerable amount of respectable poetry, some of which is as good as the average magazine verse of the time. He was a frequent contributor to the European. In 1786 he published The Children of Thespis, a verse satire on a number of actors, dramatists, and poets, which in part anticipated the Baeviad. In 1787 and 1788 he added a second and a third section respectively to this satire. After his defeat in court he left for America. Here he engaged in a bitter fight between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, on the side of the latter. The Hamiltoniad, which he published in 1804, is a coarse satire against the Federalists. Taylor says that Cobbett's pen was too formidable for him and forced him to return to England, where for a time he lived in obscurity. Later, however, he was engaged to write for a morning newspaper.