1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

William Thomas Fitzgerald, "Hint for an Inscription to the Memory of Johnson and Garrick" Diary, or Woodfall's Register (4 April 1792).



Turn, musing stranger, thy enquiring eyes,
The shrine of Shakespeare points where JOHNSON lies!
And mourn with England that ill-fated day,
That snatch'd her sweetest moralist away!
Possess'd of all that mortal could acquire,
The critic's learning, with the poet's fire;
Without reproach through life's great scene he pass'd
Esteem'd, rever'd, and honour'd to the last:
Pure were his morals, pure his learn'd pen—
The first of critics, and the best of men!
Near him in death the matchless GARRICK lies,
For ever lost the magic of his eyes;
Whose potent spell could with a glance impart
Mirth to the fancy, terror to the heart;
To Nature and her darling offspring true,
He copied not, but was what Shakespeare drew,
For ever varying, and for ever new,
Congenial souls! that grac'd a polish'd age,
Born to elucidate sweet Avon's page!
Peace to the actor's, critic's, poet's shade,
Their debt to science, and to nature paid!
Ere three such men as these again appear,
Death shall have ceas'd to cause mankind a tear;
Eternal bays shall bind each sacred bust,
And weeping Genius shall bedew their dust.