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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

XVII. Political Literature

§ 10. Night

The Rosciad called forth many enemies, and, in reply to an attack in The Critical Review, Churchill published The Apology, under the impression that the critique was Smollett’s. It cannot be called an advance on its forerunner, although sufficiently tart to make Garrick, who was victimised in it, almost supplicate his critic’s friendship. As a poem, it is much surpassed by Churchill’s next composition, Night, which appeared in October, 1761. The versification has become easier, the lines more pliant, without losing vigour. There is a suggestion of a poetical atmosphere not to be found in the hard, dry outlines of his earlier work. The substance is slight; it is merely a defence of late hours and genial converse over “the grateful cup.” Churchill was, in this instance at all events, too wise to defend excess.