1757 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Whitehead

Horace Walpole, 1757; in Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of King George II (1847) 3:81-82.



Colley Cibber, that good-humoured and honest veteran, so unworthily aspersed by Pope, and whose Memoirs, with one or two of his comedies, will secure his fame, in spite of all the abuse of his cotemporaries, dying about this time at a very great age, the Duke of Devonshire bestowed the laurel on Mr. Whitehead, a man of a placid genius. His Grace had first designed it for Gray, then for Mason, but was told that both would decline it. In truth, it was not Cibber's silly odes that disgraced the employment, but an annual panegyric venally extorted for whatever King, and with or without occasion, that debased the office. Gray, crowned with the noblest wreaths of Parnassus, could not stoop to be dubbed poet by a Lord Chamberlain; and Mason, though he had not then displayed all the powers of his genius, had too much sense and spirit to owe his literary fame to anything but his own merit.