1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin

Anonymous, in Review of Dibdin, Bibliographical Tour in Normandy, France, and Germany; Blackwood's Magazine 11 (June 1822) 694.



Our antiquary is in general more successful in hunting amongst dilapidated monasteries, and the lumber-rooms of booksellers, than the scientific baronet is represented to be, amidst the parterres and bee-stalls in which he was entangled. It is impossible not to smile at the gusto with which our zealous Palaeophilist listens to the leaves of the rare volumes on which he pounces; a species of enjoyment unknown to those vulgar book-worms, who feast on pages printed long since the days of Caxton, and Wynkyn de Worde. But no human gratification is perfect; in the midst of the very fountain of delight, says a Roman poet, springs up something bitter. Our ardent chasseur is as sensitive to pain as to pleasure, in these researches. He sometimes meets with sacrilege committed by barbarians ignorant of the rules and tastes of antiquarianism. The clipping of the ragged edges of these venerable reliques, affects his nerves as keenly as the ambassadors of King David felt the indecorous outrage inflicted by the Ammonite chief on their beards and on the skirts of their clothing. The whimsicalities of fancy, or of taste, afford much matter for curious reflexion. By these the assertion seems to be proved, that "men are but children of a larger growth." Fortunately there are rattles to be found suited to all ages.