1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Horace Walpole to William Mason, 3 February 1781; Letters, ed. Cunningham (1906) 7:403.



I have not Dr. Johnson's Lives: I made a conscience of not buying them. However, having a mind to be possessed of these last volumes (I never even dipped into their predecessors), I inquired if I could buy the Lives separately from the edition of the Poems; no, the whole are sixty volumes. My purse made a conscience of laying out so much money for criticisms I despise, and for bodies of poetry that I shall never read again, and printed in so small a type that I could not read them if I would. I will try if I can borrow Gray's Life for you, and will send it with Mr. Conway's pamphlet, and will consult Mr. Stonhewer. I think you will not deem the dull comment on Gray worth your notice; if you do, pray do not forget Soame Jenyns's Ode that is levelled at you both.