1782
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the Dygne Reader, with this Discoursing Interlude.

Rowley and Chatterton in the Shades: or Nuage Antiquae et Novae. A new Elysian Interlude, in Prose and Verse.

George Hardinge


Four irregular Spenserians (ababcC) ridicule the follies of affecting the antique. George Hardinge, who writes anonymously in this, his first publication, was afterwards distinguished as a jurist and a wag. On the Rowley Controversy, which engaged most of the leading antiquaries and literary historians of the age, see the letter in Gentleman's Magazine 59 (December 1789) 1081-85, which includes this work in a list of Rowley pamphlets illustrating the life of Chatterton in the Biographia Britannica. The work is attributed to Thomas James Mathias in Chattertoniana (1914) 15. While Hardinge counted several antiquaries among his friends, he was fond of ridiculing antiquarianism; in later publications Chalmers and Malone would both become targets of his wit.

Author's note: "I had once intended to have spelt all the words in this introduction, and some other passages in the interlude, in the ancient manner, which has been adopted by the author of the admirable and very ingenious Archeological Epistle, (which will be more relished the more it is perused:) but as my design is totally different from his, I thought there would be little force in it; a few words, indeed, cannot be spelt otherwise. It is to be wished that some future editor of Rowley's poems may print them 'unbristled,' as it were, with this strange spelling, whenever it can be effected — 'Propriis nos oportet illecebris IPSA POESIS trahat ad verum decus'" vii.

Samuel Johnson to Edmond Malone: "I think this wild adherence to Chatterton more unaccountable than the obstinate defence of Ossian. In Ossian there is a national pride, which may be forgiven, though it cannot be applauded. In Chatterton there is nothing but the resolution to say again what has once been said" 7 March 1782; in Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 4:163.

W. Davenport Adams: "George Hardinge, son of Nichols (b. 1744, d. 1816), was a contributor to the Literary Anecdotes of Nichols, who, in 1818, published, with a Life, the works of Hardinge, which included charges, lay sermons, parliamentary speeches, literary essays, and poems" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 268.

Compare William Mason's Chatterton burlesque, Archaeological Epistle to Dean Milles (1782) which is written in the same stanza.



Whoe'er thou art, that lov'st the barbarous rhyme,
The festive march, and no unpleasing tone
Of uncouth minstrel-songs i' th' olden time,
Attuned to harps in raptures all their own;
Here bend thy rede awhile, nor rudely spurn
This transitory page, ne'er doomed to life eterne.

Oh might I gain one dribbet of their sprite,
As all inglorious on the peaceful shore,
I mark the forms Pierian, orders bright,
And scan with reverence their mysterious lore;
Or trace the motley scenes of comic life,
Each magic hue that blends in ever-varying strife.

In vain I call: stern unrelenting fate
Knows not the voice of mortal wight on ground:
No more. — Then hasten to th' ideal gate,
And tread with me the blythe Elysian round;
For lo! on high, while Momus rules the hour,
The Samosatian star beams with ascendant power.

Thus may these notes of well-attemper'd mirth
Responsive vibrate to the frolic string:
Untouch'd each honour'd name of living worth:
Minos shall nod; while on excursive wing,
Waving the potent branch, serenely gay,
Pass we the realms of light and drink their golden day.

[pp. vii-viii]