1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

George Dyer, in The Poet's Fate, a Poetical Dialogue (1797) 20-21n.



A man to be admired for his talents, rather than his principles. As a writer, he arrived at considerable eminence; as a moralist, he appears a less exalted character; and from posterity, unless reconciled to bigotry and intolerance, illiberality, and inconsistency, he will obtain a very qualified reputation. Small is the merit to turn a period well, as Johnson did in the RAMBLER, or to oppose corruption in harmonious versification, as he did in a poem, entitled, London:

No spies were paid, no special juries known;
Blest age! But ah, how different from our own!

Small, I say, was this merit, when, in subsequent publications, he yielded to the most direct self-contradictions. And whence proceeded this conduct? "The grievance of the nation were suddenly removed, the nation was no more in a groaning or sinking state; for DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON HAD A PENSION." See a Letter to Dr. Johnson in Dr. Towers's Tracts. Boswell once observed, that he never saw Johnson blush but once, which was, when he read this letter to him.