1770 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Armstrong

James Beattie to William Forbes, 4 May 1770; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 1:159.



I am a very great admirer of Armstrong's poem on Health; and therefore as soon as I heard that the same author had published two volumes of Miscellanies, I sent a commission for them with great expectations: but I am miserably disappointed. I know not what is the matter with Armstrong; but he seems to have conceived a rooted aversion to the whole human race, except for a few friends, who, it seems, are dead. He sets the public opinion at defiance; a piece of boldness, which neither Virgil nor Horace were ever so shameless as to acknowledge. It is very true, that living authors are often hardly dealt with by their contemporaries; witness Milton, Collins the poet, and many others: but I believe it is equally true, that no good piece was ever published, which did not sooner or later obtain the public approbation.