1738 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Henry Felton

William Warburton to Thomas Birch, 23 March 1738; in Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the XVIII Century (1817-58) 2:84-85.



You surprize me in what you say of Felton's being the Author of the Letter; and though I have great assurance it was Webster's, yet I am inclined to think Felton had some hand in this matter. I will tell you plainly why. Three quarters of a year ago I received a letter from Felton, which I now have by me, not directly to me, where, after many compliments, he desires to know my sentiments concerning the Jew's knowledge of a future state; for that he would not willingly disagree with me; and, being then in a course of Sermons at Oxford upon that Doctrine from the Creation to Christ, and having got through the time before the Lord, and arrived at that period, he desired I would communicate my sentiments to him on that point.

In a word, the Letter in which this modest request was made was a strange heap of absurdities, which I knew not how to reply to. And communicating it to a friend of great worth, he told me his character; and that the worthy Doctor had made himself so well known, both at Oxford, and at his Living at Derbyshire, that I might very well dispense with the honour of his acquaintance. On which account, I wrote a short by very civil answer to his Letter; in which (as he particularly desired my opinion of his Sermons, which were sent with it for my perusal) I was very full in his commendations. However, I heard he said, "he knew not what to make of my Letter;" that is, he could make nothing of it to his purpose—

—Hinc illae lachrymae.