1750 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

George Lyttelton to Philip Doddridge, 22 March 1750; in Memoirs of Lyttelton (1845) 1:322-33.



By the Northampton coach of next week, I shall send Mrs. Doddridge a new, compleat, and correct edition of Mr. Thomson's works made under my care, which I beg the favour of her to accept as a small mark of my esteem and regard. There is not a line in it which a lady of virtue and modesty may not safely read, which is more than can be said of the works of any other of the English poets, except Milton, Spenser, and Addison. You will find this edition much preferable to any of the former, though not entirely free from false prints. Great corrections have been made in the diction, and many redundancies have been cutt off, which hurt the spirit, and weak'ned the force of the more sublime and nervous parts; so that upon the whole I am persuaded you will think Mr. Thomson a much better poet, if you take the trouble to read over his works in their present form, than you ever thought him before. Nor will such an amusement mispend your time, for a divine spirit of piety, virtue, and goodness breathes through them all.