1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Elizabeth Montagu to Mr. Pepys, 15 August 1781; Reginald Blunt, Mrs. Montagu, 1762-1800 (1923) 1:260.



I am very glad you had a battle with Dr. Johnson; he is too vain to guess the odium and contempt he has incurred by his character of Lord Lyttelton and some other men whose works deserved a better critic, and lives a more candid biographer. I should express myself more fully on the subject but that when mankind take vengeance for a misdemeanour that vengeance is commonly too severe. Some friends to one of the poets he has ill treated have begun such a satryical account of Johnson's person and manner, and so ridiculous a representation of his style, etc., etc., as will make him run made if published. The specimens I have seen are very clever, but tho' I am angry with Dr. Johnson I would be angry and sin not, and I have charitably endeavoured to get this work (which by the bye I understand to be the joint work of many) delayed till his death at least. I am sure our good friend Lord Lyttelton would not have approved such bitter revenge for the injurious treatment his memory has received from the Doctor.