1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

John Aikin, in Letters to a Young Lady (1806) 273.



An example of what may be done by strong sense, learning, and cultivated taste, towards producing valuable poetry, without a truly poetical genius, is afforded by SAMUEL JOHNSON, whose great name in literature has been acquired by his prose compositions. The walk in which a writer so qualified is most likely to succeed, is that of the morally didactic. Energy of language, vigour and compass of thought, and correctness of versification, are the principal requisites for the moral poet; and few have possessed them in a higher degree than the author in question.