1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Churchill

Anna Seward to William Hayley, 15 May 1804; Letters, ed. Scott (1811) 6:166-67.



I see why Collins, Gray, Mason, Hayley, Darwin, and the poetic miracle, Chatterton, overlooked. Cowper pronounces Churchill the only poet, himself excepted, since Pope's time. That he made the self-exception is certain, since none publish verses but who believe themselves poets. Churchill was "a good hater," (Johnson's avowed reason for loving some man, I forget who), and a bitter satirist, though without making, as Cowper does, religion the implement of his spleen. Churchill was an envious detractor from the literary reputation of others, and in Cowper's elegant language, "has given it them soundly." Churchill loved Lloyd, and a few more of his own worshippers. These congenialities procured him the exclusive favour of his, in those respects, kindred spirits, though Churchill's genius was, in reality, much inferior to that of Mason, and Gray, whom he ridiculed.