1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Polwhele

William Hayley to Richard Polwhele, 11 June 1792; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 1:297-98.



Eartham, June 11, 1792.

DEAR SIR,

On my return from an excursion to the North, I have just found two poetical volumes, that, arriving here long ago, deserved much earlier thanks; and a letter, which, though dated the 29th of May, did not reach my house till last night; wanting the name of our Post Town (Chichester), it wandered to East Ham, in Essex.

This brief prosaic history is a sorry return for so much elegant verse; but your candour will receive it kindly, and, be assured, that I lament the untoward circumstances which must have made me appear to you, for some time, extremely deficient, not only in gratitude, but good manners.

Though accident has rendered my thanks to you abominably slow, I entreat you to believe them sincere. I am, in truth, much indebted to you for a collection of poems, in which the Muses appear in their most amiable character, as the promoters of friendship. My obligation to you would be infinitely heightened by the very flattering sonnet that introduces me in so honourable a manner to an interesting group of poetical associates, could I believe myself justly entitled to such high distinction; but you gracious poets of the West have an amiable tendency to overvalue a distant brother of Parnassus; and who would wish to be cured of a graceful foible that he shares with Dr. Downman?

Instead, therefore, of protesting against your kind partiality, allow me to beg you will assure your accomplished physician and poetical neighbour of my regard. I am pleased to discover the happy effects of his medical skill, in the energy of your verse; and sincerely wish to you both a long enjoyment of those prime blessings in human life, health, literature, and friendship.

Believe me, dear Sir, your much obliged, and faithful servant,

W. HAYLEY.