1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Fuller

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in "England's Worthies" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 232-33.



The Worthies of Fuller were a posthumous publication: for that learned compiler died 16 Aug. 1661. It is unnecessary to detail the particulars of his life, because memoirs of him are to be found in all our biographical collections. His Abel Redivivus, has already been recorded in the first volume of CENSURA LITERARIA. Before the present book is a fine portrait of the author, engraved by Loggan. The plan of the work is according to an alphabetical arrangement of counties, in which he insists on the native commodities, the manufactures, medicinal waters, wonders, buildings, local proverbs, medicinal herbs; eminent natives, (as princes, martyrs, saints, confessors, popes, cardinals, bishops, statesmen, admirals, judges, soldiers, and sailors, authors, public benefactors, lord mayors,) gentry in the time of Henry VI. sheriffs, modern battles. This method is explained in XXV preliminary chapters.

This collection, though partaking of Fuller's common faults, a loose and corrupt style of composition, a quaint vivacity, and too many trite and colloquial anecdotes, yet contains many interesting memorials, the result of long, active, and extended research; and notwithstanding it may exhibit several errors which the intelligent reader will easily rectify, is far from meriting the dull and ill-natured censures of Bishop Nicholson. It is a book, which never yet has been superseded; and though upon this foundation it is easy to plan, and might not now be difficult to execute, a popular work of the same kind, with equal liveliness, more accuracy, and still more copious materials, yet, till such a work is produced, Fuller's Worthies will continue to rise in price and estimation: for no well-furnished library of English History ought to be without it. The List of Sheriffs is of peculiar use to an antiquary; and must have cost the author infinite toil.