1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Birch

James Boswell, in Life of Johnson, 1791; ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 1:184.



It has been circulated, I know not with what authenticity, that Johnson considered Dr. Birch as a dull writer, and said of him, "Tom Birch is as brisk as a bee in conversation; but no sooner does he take a pen in his hand, than it becomes a torpedo to him, and benumbs all his faculties." That the literature of this country is much indebted to Birch's activity and diligence must certainly be acknowledged. We have seen that Johnson honoured him with a Greek epigram, and his correspondence with him, during many years, proves that he had no mean opinion of him.