1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Shadwell

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 61.



From a scarce print by W. Faithorne.

We cannot detect ourselves, even after a very strict investigation, envying either the person or the reputation of Mr. THOMAS SHADWELL. He was crowned with the bays — i.e. he was poet-laureat to our old Roman-nosed friend the Prince of Orange, afterwards King William the Third; and his verse might perhaps have sufficed for the taste of a Batavian monarch. Nevertheless, and maugre his fine cravat and jewelled brooch, and his aspiring wig which runs upwards like a pyramid and comes flowing down over his shoulders, with a prodigality which nothing can extenuate, — the poetry of Shadwell is positively bad, even for the time. He is said to have been a wit, and to have spoken better than he wrote. This might well have been. In his latter character (as a writer) he entitled himself to Dryden's notice; and now figures immortally as "Mac Flecnoe."