1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Leigh Hunt, in Autobiography of Leigh Hunt (1850) 1:124-25.



Not long after the publication of my book [Juvenilia], I visited two of my school-fellows, who had gone to Cambridge and Oxford. The repute of it, unfortunately, accompanied me, and gave a foolish increase to my self-complacency. At Oxford, I was introduced to Kett, the poetry professor, a good-natured man, with a face like a Houhynnm (Swift should have thought it a pattern for humanity). I was in the garden of his college (Trinity); and he expressed a hope that I should feel inspired then "by the muse of Warton." I was not acquainted with the writings of Warton at that time; and perhaps my ignorance was fortunate; for it was not till long after my acquaintance with them, that I saw further into their merits, than the very first anti-commonplaces would have discerned, and as I had not acquired even those at that period, and my critical presumption was on a par with my poetical, I should probably have given the professor to understand, that I had no esteem for that kind of second-hand inspiration. I was not aware that my own was precisely of the same kind, and as different from Warton's as poverty from acquirement.