1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

John Penn, in Poems (1801) 2:239-40.



Mason had many of the qualities of a critic, which Johnson wanted. He did not love to reason and investigate; but the talent "ponere totum," the result of judgment, is very discernible in his criticisms. He can generally be relied on as an authority. I mention him among critics, not only on account of this caution, but because, owing to the subjects, arrangement, or critical allusions, of his works, taste appears to me to be their predominate quality.

In times when the mind is warped by the prevalence of theory, and every deceased author of eminence therefore is either "god or devil" with many readers of their works, it may not be useless to express a candid opinion of the relative merits of some.