Essays on Poetry
Samuel Wesley’s Epistle to a Friend concerning Poetry (1700) and the Essay on Heroic Poetry (second edition, 1697)
With an Introduction by
Edward N. Hooker
The Augustan Reprint Society
General editors: Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Edward N. Hooker, H.T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles 24, California.
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Editorial advisors: Louis I. Bredvold, University of Michigan; James L. Clifford, Columbia University; Benjamin Boyce, University of Nebraska; Cleanth Brooks, Louisiana State University; Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago; James R. Sutherland, Queen Mary College, University of London; Emmett L. Avery, State College of Washington; Samuel Monk, Southwestern University.
Lithoprinted from Author’s Typescript
EDWARDS BROTHERS, INC.
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We remember Samuel Wesley (1662-1735), if at all, as the father of a great religious leader. In his own time he was known to many as a poet and a writer of controversial prose. His poetic career began in 1685 with the publication of Maggots, a collection of juvenile verses on trivial subjects, the preface to which, a frothy concoction, apologizes to the reader because the book is neither grave nor gay. The first poem, “On a Maggot,” is composed in hudibrastics, with a diction obviously Butlerian, and it is followed by facetious poetic dialogues and by Pindarics of the Cowleian sort but on such subjects as “On the Grunting of a Hog.” In 1688 Wesley took his B.A. at Exeter College, Oxford, following which he became a naval chaplain and, in 1690, rector of South Ormsby; he became rector of Epworth in 1695. During the run of the Athenian Gazette (1691-1697) he joined with Richard Sault and John Norris in assisting John Dunton, the promoter of the undertaking. His second venture in poetry, the Life of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour, an epic largely in heroic couplets with a prefatory discourse on heroic poetry, appeared in 1693, was reissued in 1694, and was honored with a second edition in 1697. In 1695 he dutifully came forward with Elegies, lamenting the deaths of Queen Mary and Archbishop