1785 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Polwhele

Edward Drewe to Richard Polwhele, 1785; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 1:183-85.



Exeter, 1785.

REV. SIR,

Mr. H. Drewe has just shewn me your letter to him of the 15th of October, which had been mislaid amongst a number of papers.

From the testimonies to your "Art of Eloquence," I long to see our Sicilian rustic dressed in his Sunday's coat, by a gentleman we may call our own.

I have a quarrel with you, though to the best of my belief I have never seen you but by character; and, since I have been robbed of my sword, will fight it out in words.

You compliment me on my literary fame. I assure you, Sir, that I possess no merit but what arises from making use of advantages most gentlemen claim, and of which many have reaped a more ample harvest. What little I have gleaned has been of some advantage to me, however; amidst the tumults of war it has softened the horrors of my situation, in the very few moments I could snatch from employ. In peace it has filled up a few hours of a very idle man, and of course kept him from increasing dissipation. In a more advanced period of life, books (such as I can read), and the conversation of a few literary men who will give me proper allowance, will, perhaps, form my principal enjoyment.

I know not if I am writing to a man of 25 or 65, but I well know that I address myself to a man of sense, and I wish (should we meet) to undeceive him now, by assuring him that a soldier who has wandered over half the globe, with an unsteady mind, fluttering betwixt ambition and calamity, wishes much for the acquaintance of the translator of Theocritus, but sincerely regrets that he can never rival him on classical ground.

I am, Rev. Sir, your very obedient servant,

EDWARD DREWE , JUN.