1771 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Anonymous, "George Steevens to Samuel Johnson" General Evening Post (18 June 1771).



Shakespeare had sense and genius both together.
It was too much: Thou and I'll leave him neither.
Thy* Dictionary, and thine and my edition,
Shall give to sense and genius no admission.
Fear not the Critics: we've of them whole legions,
Of wit and sense to chase him from the regions.
Thy** Asses shall stand up in thy defence,
And justify their keepers want of sense.

* See Johnson's quotation from Hamlet, under the word "Reck," Dictionary vol. II. how he murders his author thro' the whole passage, beginning at "Parsons" for "Pastors."

** See Johnson's Asses in Hamlet, act v, sc. 3. and his Sub-Asses the Critical Reviewers passim.