1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Dudley Fosbroke

Anonymous, Review of Fosbroke, Economy of Monastic Life; Gentleman's Magazine 65 (Supplement, 1795) 1099-1100.



This poem, written in the stanza of Spenser most happily imitated, is inscribed, from motives of gratitude, to Edward Jenner, M.D., and, by describing the duties of church, chapter, and cloister, and adding such ceremonial particulars as he could most conveniently procure, the author hopes he has been able to convey a general idea of the nature of a monastic life. His talents and erudition, we understand, are considerable, and only equalled by the goodness of his heart. His father, dying without a will, left him an orphan, at 4 years old, to the discretion of his mother, who unfortunately entered into a second marriage with captain Holmes, a man of family and considerable property, all which he spent, together with this young man's fortune, giving him only a bond for 500 payable when he came of age: add to this, the friend who undertook to answer for his education at the university did without a will, which on his deathbed he in vain essayed to make in his favour. The dissipation of his fortune by the unhappy second marriage of his mother has reduced him to great necessities. Conscious that a history of Pelagius (Bale, cent. I. section 38) and the apostolic college at Bangor, to the general dissolution would considerably illustrate our national history, he solicits hints, or any other assistance, through the medium of the Gentleman's Magazine, for such a work. We cannot refer him to better materials than those already dispersed in the various general works on ecclesiastical history and antiquities already printed, or the local histories of counties and towns, and the MS collections severally referred to in them. The notes which accompany this poem shew that Mr. F. is equal to the diligence and labour of collecting them, and we flatter ourselves we have correspondents who will forward his undertaking. We regret that we had no opportunity of increasing the list of his subscribers, whom we are happy to find so numerous within his own county and neighbourhood, where, we understand, he is much respected. He must have laid in an amazing fund of reading and information before he retired to his rural situation, where Gloucester seems to be his nearest public library, unless he has some considerable private one at command, as he has had the MS collections of Mr. Smyth, now in the possession of lord Berkeley, of which see British Topography, vol. I. p. 371.

This poem was composed in the course of four months, as the best expedient to extricate himself, in the most conscientious manner, from his academical incumbrances.