1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

John Courtenay, in Poetical Review of the Moral and Literary Character of the late Samuel Johnson" 1786; London Chronicle (22 April 1786) 377.



By nature's gifts ordain'd mankind to rule,
He, like a Titan, form'd his brilliant school,
And taught congenial spirits to excel,
While from his lips impressive wisdom fell.

Our boasted Goldsmith felt the sovereign sway,
To him we owe, his sweet but nervous lay;
To Fame's proud cliff he bade our Raphael rise,
Hence Reynold's pen, with Reynold's pencil vies;
With Johnson's flame melodious Burney glows,
While the grand strain, in smoother cadence flows.
And thou, Malone, to critic learning dear,
Correct and elegant, refin'd tho' clear,
By studying him, first form'd that classic taste,
Which high in Shakespeare's fame thy statue place.
Near Johnson Steevens stands on scenic ground
Acute, laborious, fertile, and profound;
Ingenious Hawkesworth to this school we owe,
And scarce the pupil from the tutor know:
Here early parts accomplish'd Jones sublimes,
And science blends with Asia's lofty rhimes.

Amidst these rhimes, can Boswell be forgot,
Scarce by North Britons now esteem'd a Scot,
Who to the sage, devoted from his youth,
Imbib'd from him the sacred love of truth;
The keen research, the exercise of mind,
And that best art, the art to know mankind.

Nor was his energy confin'd alone
To friends around his philosophic throne,
Its influence wide improv'd our letter'd isle,
And lucid vigour mark'd the general style.