1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

William Cowper to Joseph Hill, April 1777; Correspondence, ed. Thomas Wright (1904) 1:141.



I have been reading Gray's works, and think him the only poet since Shakespeare entitled to the character of sublime. Perhaps you will remember that I once had a different opinion of him. I was prejudiced. He did not belong to our Thursday Society, and was an Eton man, which lowered him prodigiously in our esteem. I once thought Swift's letters the best that could be written; but I like Gray's better. His humour or his wit, or whatever it is to be called, is never ill-natured or offensive, and yet I think equally poignant with the Dean's.