1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Christopher Anstey, "Lines inscribed to the Memory of Dr. Samuel Johnson, occasioned by reading Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, Mr. Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, &c." 1786; Poetical Works (1808) 356-57.



O! JOHNSON, learned, venerable shade,
What havoc of thy fame hath friendship made,
What childish trophies round thy manly bust,
What noisome weeds are planted in thy dust!
Yet sleep in peace — and though to me unknown
(Save from the musick of thy learn'd renown)
Accept this verse, if aught my verse can boast
To sooth the anguish of thy injured Ghost.
What though thy friends, thy dearest friends, have tried,
To blaze those faults, which e'en thy foes would hide,
Though like a gem by some rude artist set,
We mark thy flaws, thy brilliancy forget,
Yet rest assured, when all their triumphs o'er,
Thy friends and enemies are known no more,
When time shall mould the sprightly works of Thrale,
And turn to vinegar her choicest ale,
When Boswell, of his birth, and friendships proud,
Mac Lean, Mac Sweyn, Mac Cromheil, and Mac Cloud,
Indignant round the savoury steak shall fry,
Or light Mundungus in the Isle of Sky,
When Pindar too, Soame Jennyngs, and myself,
Shall lie, meet victims, on a grocer's shelf:
Still shalt thou last, and o'er thy hallow'd tomb,
Fair Science weep, and bays perennial bloom.