1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Robert Fergusson, "To Dr. Samuel Johnson: Food for a new Edition of his Dictionary" Weekly Magazine and Edinburgh Amusement 22 (21 October 1773) 114.



Great Pedagogue, whose literarian lore,
With syllable and syllable conjoin'd,
To transmutate and varify, has learn'd
The whole revolving scientific names
That in the alphabetic columns lie,
Far from the knowledge of our mortal shapes;
As we, who never can peroculate
The miracles by thee miraculiz'd,
The Muse silential long, with mouth apert,
Would give vibration to stagnatic tongue,
And loud encomiate thy puissant name,
Eulogiated from the green decline
Of Thames's banks to Scoticanian shores,
Where Loch-lomondian liquids undulize.

To meminate thy name in after times,
The mighty Mayor of each regalian town
Shall consignate thy work to parchment fair
In roll burgharian, and their tables all
Shall fumigate with fumigation strong:
SCOTLAND, from perpendicularian hills,
Shall emigrate her fair MUTTONIAN store,
Which late had there in pedestration walk'd,
And o'er her airy heights perambuliz'd.

Oh, blackest execrations on thy head,
EDINA shameless! tho' he came within
The bounds of your NOTATION; tho' you knew
His HONORIFIC name, you noted not,
But basely suffer'd him to chariotize
Far from your tow'rs, with smoke that numbilate,
Nor drank one amicitial swelling cup
To welcome him convivial. BAILIES all,
With rage inflated, Catenations tear,
Nor ever after be you vinculiz'd.
Since you that sociability denied
To him whose potent Lexiphanian style
Words can PROLONGATE, and inswell his page
With what in others to a line's confin'd.

Welcome, thou verbal potentate and prince!
To hills and vallies, where emerging oats
From earth assurge our pauperty to bay,
And bless thy name, thy dictionarian skill,
Which there definitive will still remain,
And oft be speculiz'd by taper blue,
While youth STUDENTIOUS turn thy folio page.

Have you as yet, in per'patetic mood,
Regarded with the texture of the eye
The CAVE CAVERNICK, where fraternal bard
CHURCHILL, depicted pauperated swains,
With thraldom and bleak want reducted sore,
Where Nature, coloriz'd, so coarsely fades
And puts her russet par'phanalia on?
Have you as yet the way explorified,
To let lignarian chalice, swell'd with oats,
Thy orofice approach? Have you as yet,
With skin fresh rubified by scarlet spheres,
Apply'd BRIMSTONIC UNCTION to your hide,
To terrify the SALAMANDRIAN fire
That from involuntary digits asks
The USQUEBALIAN flames of whisky blue
In fermentation strong? Have you apply'd
The kelt aerian to your Anglian thighs,
And with renunciation assigniz'd
Your breeches in LONDONA to be worn!
Can you, in frigor of Highlandian sky,
On healthy summits take nocturnal rest?
It cannot be — You may as well desire
An alderman leave plumb-puddenian store,
And scratch the tegument from pottage-dish,
As bid thy countrymen, and thee conjoin'd,
Forsake stomachic joys. Then hie you home,
And be a malcontent, that naked hinds
On lentils fed, can make your kingdom quake,
And tremulate Old England libertiz'd.