1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

John Taylor Esq., "Prologue, occasioned by the Report that Dr. Johnson's Tragedy of Irene was to be revived at Covent Garden Theatre" Morning Post (12 March 1825).



Who shall presume to-night the work to blame
That bears the stamp of JOHNSON'S awful name?
A Bard who ne'er at Virtue's call would pause,
But still was prompt to vindicate her cause.
A "RAMBLER," who, though oft by Fancy led,
Ne'er left the paths that Wisdom loves to tread.
An "IDLER," tolling with unceasing zeal,
To make mankind for Truth and Reason feel:
A CRITIC, who, with judgment sound, displays
The genuine worth of Bards of former days.
A MORALIST, whose pure and lofty strain
His aim through life was firmly to sustain.

To him we owe that FABRIC which shall stand
A Guide to mark the Language of the Land,
To prove its force, and form the British Page
A LIVING CLASSIC to the latest age.
With pride the relique of his genius aid,
And pay due homage to his mighty shade.

Thus for Departed Worth, — now let my say
The times impart new int'rest to the Play;
The scene is GREECE, that land, renown'd of yore,
Which Heroes, Sages, Poets, Patriots, bore;
Where FREEDOM now is struggling to regain
Her ancient Glories on her lov'd Domain,
That lov'd Domain which HISTORY, proud to name,
Assigns, for noblest Arts, to endless fame.
Prop then, with patriot pride, the cause to-night,
Of BRITISH GENIUS, and of GRECIAN RIGHT.