1747 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Smart

Thomas Gray to Thomas Wharton, 1747; Works, ed. Gosse (1895) 2:161-62.



And as to Sm:, he must necessarily be abime, in a very short time. His debts daily increase (you remember the state they were in, when you left us). [Leonard] Addison, I know, wrote smartly to him last week; but it has had no effect, that signifies only I observe he takes hartshorn from morning to night lately: in the meantime he is amusing himself with a Comedy of his own writing, which he makes all the boys of his acquaintance act, and intends to borrow the Zodiack room, and have it performed publickly. Our friend Lawman, the mad attorney, is his copyist; and truly the author himself is to the full mad as he. His piece (he says) is inimitable, true sterling wit, and humour by God; and he can't hear the Prologue without being ready to die with laughter. He acts five parts himself, and is only sorry, he can't do all the rest. He has also advertised a collection of Odes; and for his Vanity and Faculty of Lying, they are come to full maturity. All this, you see, must come to a Jayl, or Bedlam, and that without any help, almost without pity. By the way, now I talk of a Jayl, please let me know, when and where you would have me pay my own debts.