1772 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

A. C., "On the Works of Mr. Samuel Johnson" Weekly Magazine and Edinburgh Amusement 17 (23 July 1772) 114.



In Johnson's writings but too oft 'tis found,
That pompous words are merely empty sound;
A stiff, affected, false embellish'd phrase,
May please the author, and make fools to gaze,
But ne'er, from taste or sense, can merit praise.
Vain his attempts our language to refine;
Immortal Dryden! first that praise was thine:
In Addison, true critics ever own,
That humour with politeness brightly shone.
Though keen his wit, severe his manly rage,
Yet Swift improv'd the diction of his age.
Pope, Parnell, Gay, with St. John did conspire,
To mend our taste, and kindle Attic fire.
With such as these tho' Johnson fain wou'd vie,
His genius creeps, whilst theirs ascends the sky.
Desist, proud man! for all thy arts are vain
To rival wits of Anna's glorious reign;
Thy labour'd stile thy weakness truly shows,
For wit, and pedantry are ever foes.