1795 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Matthew Prior

Richard Hurd, "Prior" 1795 ca.; Commonplace Book in Kilvert, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Richard Hurd (1860) 291.



His verses on Guiscard's wounding Mr. Harley — strike out the three first stanzas, which are very bad. The rest is well enough.

It is remarkable that this poet, though he wrote verse with singular ease and grace, lost this faculty in prose, especially in his familiar letters. The reason might be, that he wrote verses to please himself, and therefore followed his natural vein: but in writing letters, his aim was to please others, and he thought he could not do this but by writing in his character of a wit, which would of course render his manner constrained, pert, and affected. The observation applies in some degree to Pope himself, at least in his early letters to wits and ladies.