1750 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Lauder

William Warburton to John Jortin, 1750 ca.; in Nichols, Illustrations (1817-1858) 2:177-78.




Lauder has offered much amusement for the publick, and they are obliged to him. What the publick wants, or subsists on, is news. Milton was their reigning favourite; yet they took it well of a man they had never heard of before, to tell them the news of Milton's being a thief and a plagiary; had he been proved a —, it had pleased them much better. When this was no longer news, they were equally delighted with another, as much a stranger to them [John Douglas], who entertained them with another piece of news, that Lauder was a plagiary and an impostor: had he proved a Jesuit in disguise, nothing had equalled the satisfaction. We bear this humour in the publick; but, when particulars have imbibed this public spirit, nothing is so detestable as such a character, and a man without a heart needs a public expiation more than a beast with one. I know some of these monsters; and so do you, I dare say, more than you esteem them. It is a pity that they should be sometimes men of wit.