1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Helen Maria Williams

Samuel Johnson, 1784; Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1791) 4:325-26.



He [Johnson] had dined that day at Mr. Hoole's, and Miss Helen Maria Williams being expected in the evening, Mr. Hoole put into his hands her beautiful Ode on the Peace: Johnson read it over, and when this elegant and accomplished young lady presented it to him, he took her by the hand in the most courteous manner, and repeated the finest stanza of her poem; this was the most delicate and pleasing compliment he could pay. Her respectable friend, Dr. Kippis, from whom I heard this anecdote, was standing by, and was not a little gratified.

Miss Williams told me, that the only other time when was fortunate enough to be in Dr. Johnson's company, he asked her to sit down by him, which she did, and upon her enquiring how he was, he answered, "I am very ill indeed, Madam, I am very ill even when you are near me; what should I be were you at a distance?"