Richard Hurd to Thomas Gray, [7 January 1757]
I will beg the favour of your Milton once more. I have considerd your Observations in the Paper you oblig'd me with yesterday. I think them excellent and shall correct accordingly.
The only one of the least consequence that sticks with me is your hint about the Introduction. And I owe it to your frankness, to tell you my sincere sentiments. I hate the hypocrisy of those men who think to cover their own dullness under the mask of piety, as much as you can do. I know too what is to be said for those who have not devoted themselves to a Profession And still further for those who read the Poets, not for amusement only, but to contend with the best of them. I honour, in a word, true poetry and true Poets as much as any body. And I think, in particular, with you that Mr Pope's apologies for himself were very needless. Yet still in my own case I must profess to you with sincerity, that what I say in the Letter is my real opinion. The Profession, I am of, is a sacred one. And tho' it does not oblige me to renounce the poets, my business, I think, should lie elsewhere. I assure you, I take this design to be but a decent one in my circumstances, and, considering the circumstances of the time, an absolute Duty. So that when these things are out of my hands, and the few Dialogues I mention'd to you, I have determin'd long since to pass the remainder of my Life (I mean if in that remainder I do any thing as a writer) in the concerns of my own Profession. However there are some things in the Introduction put more strongly than they needed to have been, and these I shall soften; principally because what I leave will then be understood, not as words of course, but as my real meaning.
You will think I treat you very formally, in entering into this serious explanation. I do it to show you on what grounds, and with what reluctance, I deny myself the use of any part of your kind Intimations to me.
Your very oblig'd humble Servant
Hurd Library, Hartlebury Castle , Hartlebury, UK <https://www.museumsworcestershire.org.uk/museums/county-museum-hartlebury/>
- The Correspondence of Richard Hurd & William Mason. And letters of Richard Hurd to Thomas Gray. With introduction & notes by the late Ernest Harold Pearce. Ed. with additional notes by Leonard Whibley. Cambridge: University Press, 1932, 33-35
- Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 231*, vol. ii, 492-494