1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Glocester Ridley

William Warburton to Richard Hurd, 26 February 1765; in Letters of a Late eminent Prelate (1808) 262-63.



Were I to tell you of politics, ecclesiastical or civil, there would be no end. I will reserve it all for Summer or Gloucester.

Only I cannot forbear telling you, that when we all dined with the Archbishop after his uprising from the gout, amongst other things of equal importance, he told his brethren, in assembly complete and full, that Mr. Ridley had undertaken to answer Phillips's Life of Cardinal Pole. — You will hardly guess what I said on this occasion, though you are sufficiently acquainted with my indiscreet and uncourtly politics — take it then in the very words I said it, as near as I can remember — "My Lord, we are much bounden to your Grace for your incessant care of the Church's interest. I think Mr. Ridley sufficiently qualified for his undertaking. Yet I could have wished that the task had been performed by some, in a more eminent station. Mr. Ridley's name puts me in mind of his great namesake the Bishop of London. In those times, by Lord, the Bishops did not leave these matters to their Chaplains, but performed them themselves. He of London and Jewel of Salisbury, have made their names immortal by their defences of the Protestant Church of England. And I suppose they encouraged one another in these undertakings, by the reasoning of Sarpedon, in Homer, to his Friend Glaucus. — 'Why, says that generous hero, are we distinguished from the rest of our brethren with superior titles and riches, but that we may out do them in the service of the public; so that when men see our great achievements, they may say, these men deserve their superior titles and riches who perform thus nobly.'"—

A silence ensued. But the thing did not seem to be taken amiss. And some said with good humour enough, "why did you not undertake this service yourself?" I replied, "when I think I can do any service, I do not stay to be called upon. And I appeal to Neal's History of the Puritans, in three vols. now in the library at Durham, which at one of my residences I took home to my house, and, at breakfast time, filled the margins quite through; which I think to be a full confutation of all his false facts and partial representations. The Bp. of Durham has seen it, or at least heard of it." And so we parted with much good humour.