1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Richard Hurd

Isaac D'Israeli, in Quarrels of Authors (1814) 1:126-31.



The character of a literary sycophant was never more perfectly exhibited than in HURD. A Whig in principle, yet he had all a courtiers's arts for WARBURTON; to him he devoted all his genius, though that, indeed, was moderate; aided him with all his ingenuity, which was exquisite; and lent his cause a certain delicacy of taste and cultivated elegance, which, although too prim and artificial, was a vein of gold running through his mass of erudition; for it was HURD who aided the usurpation of WARBURTON in the province of Criticism, above Aristotle and Longinus. HURD is justly characterised by WARTON, in his Spenser, vol. ii. p. 36, as "the most sensible and ingenious of modern Critics." — He was a lover of his studies; and he probably was sincere, when he once told a friend of the literary antiquary COLE, that he would have chosen not to quit the University, for he loved retirement; and on that principle COWLEY was his favourite poet, which he afterwards shewed, by his singular edition of that Poet. He was called, from the cloistered shades, to assume the honourable dignity of a royal Tutor. Had he devoted his days to Literature, he would have still enriched its stores. But he had other more supple and more serviceable qualifications. Most adroit was he in all the archery of Controversy: he had the subtility that can evade the aim of the assailant, and the slender dexterity, substituted for vigour, that struck when least expected. The subaltern genius of HURD required to be animated by the heroic energy of WARBURTON; and the careless courage of the Chief wanted one, who could maintain the unguarded passages he left behind him in his progress.