« De Thou | ‘Lost Articles’ | Samuel Purchas »

On The Adjective “Pretty”

“A YOUNG man,” says a critic, “told me the other day, that the Verses of Mr. Gray were ‘pretty.’ They are more than ‘pretty,’ I answered him: you are like him, who having, for the first time in his life, seen the Sea. should exclaim—it was a pretty thing!” It was thus also a puny officer, in talking of the late Duke of Marlborough, said, after the battle of Ramillies, he was a pretty man. The father of the young officer, who was present, turned to him, with an austerity in his countenance he was little accustomed to wear—“And you are a pretty fool, thus to characterize the greatest man in England.” The sterling weight of words is not always known to our younger critics.