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Richard Hurd to Thomas Gray, [7 January 1757]

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Dear Sir,

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.

I am, Dear Sir,
Your very oblig'd humble Servant
R. Hurd.
Letter ID: letters.0263 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Hurd, Richard, 1720-1808
Writer's age: 37
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 40


Date of composition: [7 January 1757]
Date (on letter): Friday morning
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Address (on letter): Emman[uel College].


Language: English
Incipit: I will beg the favour of your Milton once more. I have considerd your...
Mentioned: Hurd, Dr. Richard
Mason, William, 1724-1797
Milton, John
Pope, Alexander

Holding Institution

Hurd Library, Hartlebury Castle , Hartlebury, UK <>
Availability: The original letter is extant, but there is no further information about its availability

Print Versions

  • 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