1730 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

Aaron Hill to Samuel Richardson, 1 June 1730; Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. Barbauld (1804) 1:2-3.



It pleases me, but does not surprise me at all, that your sentiments concerning Milton's prose writings, agree with those I threw out, under influence of that backhanded inspiration, which his malevolent genius had filled me with, as I drew in the bad air of his pages. I know your good nature too well, to suspect it of esteem for an object so remotely unlike and unequal. One might venture on a very new use of two writers: I would pick out my friends and my enemies, by setting them to read Milton and Cowley. I might take it for granted, that I ought to be afraid of his heart, who, in the fame and popularity of the first, could lose sight of his malice and wickedness. And it could be running no hazard in friendship, to throw open one's breast to another, who, in contempt of the fashion we are fallen into, of decrying the works of the second, could have courage to declare himself charmed, by both the muse and the man, in that writer.