Thomas Edwards's more-than-fifty sonnets were instrumental in reviving
the sonnet form. After retiring from the legal profession he pursued a literary
career. A serious classical scholar and friend of novelist Samuel Richardson
(1689–1761), Edwards was best known for his public attack on William War-
burton's (1698–1779) 1747 edition of Shakespeare's plays, calling it sloppy
and pedantic. Warburton responded by attacking Edwards in the notes to his
edition of Pope's Dunciad. In 1750, Edwards retorted with the sonnet begin-
ning “Tongue-doughty pedant” and a mock dedication to his enlarged edi-
tion of The Canons of Criticism.
When pensive on that portraiture I gaze,
Where my four brothers round about me stand,
And four fair sisters smile with graces bland,
The goodly monument of happier days;
And think how soon insatiate Death, who preys
On all, has cropped the rest with ruthless hand;
While only I survive of all that band,
Which one chaste bed did to my father raise;
It seems that like a column left alone,
The tottering remnant of some splendid fane,
'Scaped from the fury of the barbarous Gaul,
And wasting Time, which has the rest o'erthrown;
Amidst our house's ruins I remain
Single, unpropped, and nodding to my fall.
Tongue-doughty pedant; whose ambitious mind
Prompts thee beyond thy native pitch to soar;
And, imped with borrowed plumes of index-lore,
Range through the vast of science unconfined!
Not for thy wing was such a flight designed:
Know thy own strength, and wise attempt no more;
But lowly skim round error's winding shore,
In quest of paradox from sense refined.
Much hast thou written—more than will be read;
Then cease from Shakespeare thy unhallowed rage;