1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Miss Bruce, "On Reading Doctor Johnson's Tour to the Western Islands of Scotland" Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (19 July 1787).



Paoli the Second, to make people stare,
Thro' Scotland once led an huge English bear;
And to laugh at his countrymen, formed a plan
To make them caress this strange beast of a man:
Who could with his paw, whenever he need,
Raise an oat cake or pitcher quite up to his head;
He began to articulate Guttural lingo,
And taught by example could swallow their stingo.
To St. Andrews they went, a place we are told,
Much famed for learning and wisdom of old:
Then to the grave Doctors, this Corsican droll,
Presented his friend, and swore by his soul
He was a Philosopher greatly admir'd,
And a thirst after knowledge his journey inspir'd;
To divert and please him they made it their care,
Being glad to see such a Philosopher there;
And to show their respect they prepar'd him a feast,
Where first they discover'd he was but a beast.
From Fife to the north, and each northern isle,
Where the people on strangers promiscuously smile,
Their journey they took, when this curious wight
Found brunies and fairies, and the second sight,
And people so kind — of their best did he share,
You'd wonder to see how they hugg'd the great bear,
Whose carcase bevermin'd so lately we've seen,
Tho' now chang'd in his fur — since the State kept him clean.
Yet so beastly his nature, tho' in a chintz bed,
All nicely accouter'd, he says, he was laid;
And to comfort him more, tho' he slept by a fire,
The monster in fancy still wallow'd in mire.
But the puddle he mentions before his bed-side,
Was a drain from himself — if he is not bely'd;
For his landlord, an hearty old buck of a fellow,
At supper, it seems, made the Doctor so mellow,
That his crazy old hulk for the lading too weak,
Disburden'd itself by springing a leak.
Such impudence then in relating the story,
Has greatly incensed the chamber-maid Flory,
Who knows the whole truth, having such a sad scrubbing,
And swears she still owes the fibber a drubbing.
This pur-blind old beast, so caress'd in the North,
Oft promis'd to publish the Highlanders worth;
Ev'n puritan parsons to him were so civil,
That it griev'd his soul — they must go to the Devil.
But he wonder-struck was, when he cou'd not descry
One tree to rub on, or bramble-bush nigh;
In England (he mutter'd) good rubbing-posts grew
For the use of the bullock, the hog, and the cow:
But denuded this land, like the Goddess of Truth,
As an emblem of Virtue, scarce found in the South;
Where, tho' trees we have plenty, such vices abound,
That Tyburn in time must untimber the ground.
How the English will stare when I tell them my news,
That the Scots are polite, and never abuse;
That they never drown serious matter with laughter,
But here ends the rhyme of
THE FIFE WOMAN'S DAUGHTER.