Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Some more of these (and from the same sources); this time for some pre-Victorian classics:

SHAKESPEARE.  ‘Not a Pug in Barbary that has not a truer taste of things.’  Thomas Rymer, A Short View of Tragedy (1693), 124

SHAKESPEARE.  ‘A damned humbug.’  Byron, to Tom Moore, 15 October 1819 [Memoirs of Thomas Moore (1854), iii:34]

MEASURE FOR MEASURE.  ‘A hateful work, though Shakespearian throughout.’ Coleridge, 24 June 1827 [Table Talk (1874), 42]

BEN JONSON.  ‘I can’t read Ben Jonson, especially his comedies. To me he appears to move in a wide sea of glue.’  Tennyson, to Frederick Locker-Lampson, 1869 [Memoir (1897), 73]

TOM JONES.  ‘A dissolute book. Its run is over.’ Samuel Richardson, 21 Jan 1759 [Correspondence (1804), v:275]

THE BEGGAR’S OPERA.  ‘A mere pouring of bilge-water and oil of Vitriol on the deepest wounds of humanity.’  Thomas Carlyle, [Reid Life of Lord Houghton (1891), ii:479]

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.  ‘Gibbons’ style is detestable, but his style is not the worst thing about him.’ Coleridge, 15 August 1833 [Table Talk (1874), 273]

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.  ‘I have seldom met with more affectation and less perspicuity. The instances of false English are many; and of false taste endless.  I find little of the sober dignity of history; and the notes are as immodest and they are profane.  Hannah More, 1788 [Memoirs (1835), ii:132]

TRISTRAM SHANDY.  ‘The dregs of nonsense.’ Horace Walpole to the Rev. Henry Zouch, 7 March 1761 [Letters (1891), iii:382]

DAVID HUME.  ‘The most insolent despiser of truth and virtue that ever appeared in the world’ John Wesley, 5 May 1772 [Journal, v:458]

I must say: I tend to agree with Tennyson on Jonson, especially.

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