1737 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joshua Poole

William Oldys, in The British Muse (1737) 1:xiii-xiv.



The English Parnassus, or, An Help to English Poesy, by Joshua Poole, of Clare Hall in Cambridge, and sometimes master of a private school at Hatlley. It consists of three parts. The first is an alphabet of monosyllabical rhymes; the second, an assemblage of epithets; and the third, an heap of phrases and ends of verse, extracted from translations, as well as originals, and prose, as well as poetical, writers. He ascribes few of these quotations to their authors, and concludes his work with some general modes or formalities of expression upon several trite topicks, much in the manner of The Academy of Compliments. This elaborate piece of poetical patchwork was calculated for the youth of his school, but is, indeed, fit only to teach them the pompous insignificance and empty swell of pedantry and bombast. His scholars might learn from it, when they took a nest, to call the birds, "The summer's waits; the air's feathered parishioners; the woods wild burgesses; the living ships with feathered sails; the winged travellers of the sky, that in their leafy cages do musick with their horny hautboys make." Fine language to improve the style of youth; or rather, to make them as great coxcombs in speech, as affectation or fashion ever made in dress!