1833 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1 November 1833; Table Talk (1884) 266-67.



Dr. Johnson seems to have been really more powerful in discoursing viva voce in conversation than with his pen in hand. It seems as if the excitement of company called something like reality and consecutiveness into his reasonings, which in his writings I cannot see. His antitheses are almost always verbal only; and sentences in the Rambler may be pointed out to which you cannot attach any definite meaning whatever. In his political pamphlets there is more truth of expression than in his other works, for the same reason that his conversation is better than his writings in general. He was more excited and in earnest.