1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Isaac Watts

William Cowper to John Newton, 18 September 1781; in Southey, Life and Works of Cowper (1835-37) 15:92.



He [Samuel Johnson] writes, indeed, like a man that thinks a great deal, and that sometimes thinks religiously: but report informs me that he has been severe enough in his animadversions upon Dr. Watts, who was nevertheless, if I am in any degree a judge of verse, a man of true poetical feeling; careless, indeed, for the most part, and inattentive too often to those niceties which constitute elegancies of expression, but frequently sublime in his conceptions, and masterly in his execution. Pope, I have heard, had placed him once in the Dunciad, but on being advised to read him before he judged him, was convinced that he deserved other treatment, and thrust somebody's blockhead into the gap, whose name, consisting of a monosyllable, happened to fit it.