1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dennis

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:663n.



John Dennis was born in London in 1667, and became celebrated as a poet, dramatist, and critic. In 1712, he attacked Addison's Cato, which occasioned a whimsical pamphlet, called the Narrative of Dr. John Norris, concerning the strange and deplorable phrenzy of Mr. John Dennis. He died Jan. 6, 1734. The following epigram was written by Savage, and first published in Johnson's preface to the Lives of the English Poets.

Should Dennis publish you had stabb'd your brother,
Lampoon'd your monarch, or debauch'd your mother;
Say what revenge on Dennis can be had,
Too dull for laughter, for reply too mad?
On one so poor you cannot take the law;
On one so old your sword you scorn to draw;
Uncag'd then let the harmless monster rage,
Secure in dulness, madness, want, and age.