1771
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To her grace, Elizabeth, Duchess and Countess of Northumberland, in her own right Baroness Percy. &c. &c. &c.

The Hermit of Warkworth. A Northumberland Ballad. In Three Fits or Cantos.

Bp. Thomas Percy


A Spenserian sonnet: Thomas Percy's poem "has the same apologetic tone as the preface to the Reliques; it tries to bespeak the lady's favour for the 'ancient legendary tale' which he suspects has slight interest 'for the polish'd mind" Clarissa Rinaker, "Percy as a Sonneteer" MLN 35 (1920) 57. The apology was hardly necessary, since Percy's patrons, the Duke and Duchess were noted for their enthusiasm for antiquarian matters.

Oliver Elton: "The original verse of Dr. Thomas Percy (1729-1811), the friend of Johnson, Goldsmith, and Shenstone, editor of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, and latterly Bishop of Dromore, contributes little to poetry. His pretty piece 'Nancy,' though by no means wholly original in idea, is to be remembered; but the popular and mawkish Hermit of Warkworth does him little good. An antiquarian, collector, and translator, Percy was the cause of poetry in others, and a discoverer of treasure. As it happened, his achievement was to spread the knowledge of folk-ballad and romance and to rescue noble specimens of both" Survey of English Literature 1730-1780 (1928) 2:87-88.



Down in a northern vale wild flow'rets grew,
And lent new sweetness to the summer gale;
The Muse there found them all remote from view,
Obscur'd with weeds, and scattee'd o'er the dale.
O Lady, may so slight a gift prevail,
And at your gracious hand acceptance find?
Say, may an ancient legendary tale
Amuse, delight, or move the polish'd mind?
Surely the cares and woes of human kind,
Tho' simply told, will gain each gentle ear:
But all for you the Muse her lay design'd,
And bade your noble Ancestors appear;
She seeks no other praise, if you commend,
Her great protectress, patroness, and friend.

[Sig. A3]