1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Matthew Prior

Samuel Johnson, 1769; Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 2:89-90.



Mrs. Thrale disputed with him on the merit of Prior. He attacked him powerfully; said he wrote of love like a man who had never felt it: his love verses were college verses; and he repeated the song "Alexis shunn'd his fellow swains," &c., in so ludicrous a manner, as to make us all wonder how any one could have been pleased with such fantastical stuff. Mrs. Thrale stood to her gun with great courage, in defence of amorous ditties, which Johnson despised, till he at last silenced her by saying, "My dear Lady, talk no more of this. Nonsense can be defended but by nonsense."