1744 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Mark Akenside

Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 26 April 1744; Poems of Mr. Gray, ed. Mason (1775) 178-79.



You desire to know, it seems, what Character the Poem of your young friend [Pleasures of Imagination] bears here. I wonder that you ask the opinion of a Nation, where those, who pretend to judge, do not judge at all; and the rest (the wiser part) wait to catch the judgment of the world immediately above them; that is, Dick's and the Rainbow Coffee-houses. Your readier way would be to ask the Ladies that keep the Bars in those two theatres of Criticism. However, to shew you that I am a judge, as well as my Countrymen, I will tell you, I have rather turned it over than read it (but no matter; no more have they), it seems to me above the middling; and now and then, for a little while, rises even to the best, particularly in description. It is often obscure, and even unintelligible, and too much infected with the Hutchinson jargon. In short, its great fault is, that it was published at least nine years too early. And so methinks in a few words, "a la mode du Temple," I have very pertly dispatched what perhaps may for several years have employed a very ingenious man worth fifty of myself.