1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 195.



Collins died in this very year 1756. It is singular that, after Dr. Johnson had written about with such ardent and eloquent affection [in his 1756 letters to Joseph Warton], he could at a long subsequent period, when time generally meliorates the love of departed friends, and memory aggrandizes their images, speak of him with such splenetic and degrading criticism in his Lives of the Poets. Those lives, especially of his cotemporaries, powerful as they often are, have gone further towards the suppression of rising genius, than any book our language has produced. They flatter the prejudices of dull men, and the envy of those who love not literary pursuits; and on this account, in addition to the wonderful force with which they are composed, have obtained a dangerous popularity, which has given a full effect to their poison.