1785 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Classicus, "On the Death of Samuel Johnson" St. James's Chronicle (15 January 1785).



Fate aim'd the Blow — "the cruel Arrow sped;"
And Johnson now lies number'd with the Dead.
Shall I not drop one melancholy Tear
On his lamented, his much-honoured Bier?
His Merit claims the elegiac Lay;
That Tribute here the willing Muses pay.
Resign'd he fell — his pure, his classic Page
Will furnish Precepts for a future Age:
Instructive Lessons to the human Heart
His Moral Essays even must impart.
Improv'd, O great Philologer, by thee
The English Language to Posterity
Shall attic Phrase and well turn'd Periods show,
With all the Graces that from Taste can flow.
Thy nervous Style, so beautifully strong,
Shall be the Standard of thy native Tongue.
But though thy Learning justly rais'd thy Name,
And shall hereafter still increase thy Fame,
Yet did thy Life thy Lit'rature excell,
And added Force to what was taught so well.
Thy Writings recommend Religion's Cause,
And thy whole Life was govern'd by her Laws.
Teddington, Jan. 13, 1785.