1737 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Samuel Say

Isaac Watts to Samuel Say, 28 January 1737; Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature 5 (January 1810) 5.



Newington, Jan. 28, 1736-27.

DEAR SIR,

If you desire me to do any thing for you, which you could not do your self, you know I am ever ready: but when you ask me to correct a copy of verses, you ask me to teach Quintilian to correct an creation of one of his Roman pupils, or to instruct Horace to write lyricks.

Alas, my friend, I am grown into years, and tho' parts of the critick lives, yet the poet is almost expired. Old age can find fault where it cannot mend.

Yet friendship prevails and overrules my reasonings, and constrains me to try a little to attempt what you desire; tho' I must confess, in these cases I usually send back poems to my common friends without correcting them.

And first, I presume, there is to be as little as possible alter'd in these lines, which indeed carry in them a good sense of piety and happy poetick turns, especially considering 'tis the first essay of a young genius.

I presume also that the first line should all the way be kept rhyming with the 3d, 4th, 5th as it is in the first stanza; and indeed it ought to be every where or no where. But this makes it more difficult to make four good lines rhyme in every stanza. However, I have sent you a short sketch of what may be much improved by your review.

I take pleasure to hear that there is any thing near the court which keeps up a reall sense of piety. May it ever increase, and that in all nations, till the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of the blessed Jesus. Amen.

With due salutations, to your family,

I am, Sir,

Your affectionate humble servant,

I. WATTS.

P.S. I find severall pretty turns and addresses to young and old in your Sermon, which please me. Lady Abney sends you her thanks.