TRINITY LODGE, CAMBRIDGE, November 23d, [1830.]
it gives me much concern that you should have occasion to write to me again, and the more so because the wish which you have done me the honour of expressing it is out of my power to gratify.... But to say the truth I read so little, and am so very much less addicted to writing — especially upon any formal subjects — that though I should not be without a strong wish to serve you, were I able to do so, I am conscious that I could not undertake the task you would put me to, with the least prospect of benefit to either of us. I am not a critic, and set little value upon the art. The preface which I wrote long ago to my own Poems I was persuaded to write by the urgent entreaties of a friend, and heartily regret I ever had anything to do with it; though I do not reckon the principles then advanced erroneous.
Your poem is vigorous, and that is enough for me. I think it in some places diffuse, in others somewhat rugged, from the originality of your mind. You feel strongly; trust to those feelings, and your poem will take its shape and proportions, as a tree does, from the vital principle that actuates it. I do not think that great poems can be cast in a mould. Homer's, the greatest of all, certainly was not. Trust, again I say, to yourself....
Believe me, with sincere respect,