1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 1:33-34.



Dr. Warton was invited, while master of Winchester school, to meet a relative of Pope, who, from her connexion with the family, he was taught to believe could furnish him with much valuable and private information.

Incited by all that eagerness which so strongly characterized him, he, on his introduction, sat immediately close to the lady; and, by inquiring her consanguinity to Pope, entered at once on the subject, when the following dialogue took place: "Pray, Sir, did you not write a book about my cousin Pope?" — "Yes, Madam." — "They tell me it was vastly clever. He wrote a great many plays, didn't he?" — "I have heard only of one attempt, Madam." — "Oh, no! I beg your pardon, that was Mr. Shakspeare; I always confound them." This was too much even for the Doctor's gallantry; he replied, "Certainly, Madam!" and with a bow, changed his seat to the opposite side of the room, where he sat, to the amusement of a large party, with such a mingled countenance of archness and chagrin; such a struggle between his taste for the ridiculous, and his natural politeness; as could be pourtrayed but by his speaking and expressive face. The Doctor was at length relieved by the breaking up of the company, when he retired home disappointed, yet amused.