1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmond Malone

Octavius Graham Gilchrist, in Review of Spence, Anecdotes, Observations, and Characters of Books and Men; London Magazine 1 (February 1820) 191.



To speak plainer, — we suspect that Mr. Malone had influence enough, when living, to keep the entire collection of these anecdotes from the press; while he doled out exclusively, in his endless appendices, addendas, and notes, those little modicums of literary history, which gave interest and value to his tedious pages. We well remember that, having occasion to consult Aubrey's "lives, &c." while they were yet in MS., we applied at the Bodleian for leave to examine them: the sight of them was withheld; and it was afterwards signified to us, as a reason for the denial, that "Mr. Malone was going to do something with them." We experienced a similar disappointment upon application at the British Museum, some years since, for the use of a little volume of "Mery Passages and Jeastes." (Harl. MS. No. 6395.) While employed upon the life of Dryden, prefixed to his prose works, Mr. Malone was favoured with the free use of Spence's Anecdotes, &c. "and he availed himself of the privilege of making a complete transcript for his own use." On the breach of confidence we shall say nothing. This transcript (after the transcriber's death?) was entrusted to Mr. William Beloe — of museum memory — who advertised a publication of the Anecdotes in two octavo volumes. How Mr. Murray's small volume was to have been forced out to such a disproportioned bulk, we know not. What, however, Malone left unfinished, Beloe might properly enough complete, — but Nisus and Euryalus both went to the shades, and the MSS. of Polymetus Spence are no longer withheld from us either by indolence or design. Aubrey's lives and letters too have also been published.