1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Gifford

Samuel Johnson, in Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1791; ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 5:133-35.



We came to Nairn to breakfast. Though a country town and a royal burgh, it is a miserable place. Over the room where we sat, a girl was spinning wool with a great wheel, and singing an Erse song: "I'll warrant you, (said Dr. Johnson,) one of the songs of Ossian. He then repeated these lines—

Verse sweetens toil, however rude the sound.
All at her work the village maiden sings;
Nor while she turns the giddy wheel around,
Revolves the sad vicissitude of things.

I thought I had heard these lines before. JOHNSON. "I fancy not, Sir; for they are in a detached poem, the name of which I do not remember, written by one Giffard, a parson."