1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

Joseph Warton to William Hayley, 29 December 1795; Wooll, Biographical Memoirs of Joseph Warton (1806) 405-06.



Wickham, Dec. 29, 1795.

My dear Sir,

I have a thousand warm and cordial thanks to return to you, for the honour you have done me in addressing to me your Life of Milton; an honour as invaluable as unexpected, and which must be attributed solely to your friendship and partiality. I have read your Life with equal pleasure, attention, and information. You have candidly and completely vindicated our unrivalled bard. — I almost wish you had quoted the next stanza in Akenside's Ode, in which he accounts for what is called Milton's acrimony against Charles 1st. I know there was such a poem as Angeleida, but, having never seen it, wish you had given a specimen or two. I have no doubt of Milton's having seen it. The assigning the invention of artillery to the infernal agents is I think a decisive proof: tho' this artillery is mentioned also by Ariosto. The Poem of Lancetta, which you have brought forward, is indeed a very great literary curiosity. I never heard of it. — Rejoice with me, my dear friend, that I have finish'd my labours on Pope for the press, and we have begun to print. But this is a sort of work in which there can be little curious matter on so known and beaten a subject — and no very correct writer can be a good subject for criticism — to be always commending is tedious, and almost as bad as always censuring. I have been forced to give hard blows to the marvellous absurdities of Warburton. I thank you for the friendly delicacy in which you speak of my Essay on Pope. I never thought we disagreed so much as you seem to imagine. All I said, and all I think, is comprehended in these words of your own, "He chose to be the Poet of reason rather than fancy." — Of this and a million of subjects I long to talk with you. When and where can we met? I am always

Dear Sir,

Very affectionately and faithfully yours,

J. WARTON.