1757 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

Horace Walpole to George Lyttelton, 25 August 1757; Memoirs of Lyttelton (1845) 2:566.



Thirst and Hunger [in Gray's The Bard] mocking Richard II., appear to me too ludicrously like the devils in the Tempest, that whisk away the banquet from the shipwrecked Dukes. From thence to the conclusion of Queen Elizabeth's portrait, which he has faithfully copied from Speed, in the passage where she mumbled the Polish Ambassador, I admire, I can even allow that Image of Rapture hovering like an ancient grotesque, though it strictly has little meaning, but there I take my leave; the last stanza has no beauties for me. I even think its obscurity fortunate, for the allusions to Spencer, Shakespeare, Milton are not only weak, but the two last returning again, after appearing so gloriously in the first ode, and with so much fainter colours, enervate the whole conclusion.