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This report is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

Comment C.H. Sisson
I am proud to have discovered what must be regarded, if not as the Founding Document of the Arts Council's Literature Panel, at least as the source of all their most progressive ideas for the advancement of poetry. It takes time for such ideas to work their way through to the influential circles which determine the direction of official patronage, so it will come as no surprise that the document bears the date 1 Dec., 1720. I leave others to determine what significance may attach to the fact that the document originated in Ireland, and was published in Dublin in the following year. The piece in question is A LETTER OF ADVICE TO A YOUNG POET; together with a PROPOSAL for the encouragement of POETRY in this Kingdom. It has sometimes been attributed to the Dean of St Patrick's of the day, but this attribution must be doubtful, for it seems unlikely that such enlightened notions should come from so tainted a source. The author commends the young poet he is addressing for his 'wise Resolution to withdraw . . . early from other unprofitable and severe Studies' and to betake himself to the study of poetry which - 'if you have good Luck', as he says - 'will advance [your] Fortune, and make [you] an Ornament to [your] Friends and [your] Country.'

The seriousness of this little tract is nowhere shown more clearly than in the passage in which the author confesses that he is concerned only with ...


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