1775 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Causidicas, "Taxation no Tyranny" Middlesex Journal (6 April 1775).



How sweet the Rambler, under Virtue's lure,
To Nature's frailties shew'd the lenient cure!
O'er chaste Morality's instructive ground,
The pleasing Idler took his weekly round.
How glow'd the Soul with energy divine!
Persuasion dwelt on every nervous line.
What fire of language, and what splendid sense,
Did English Juvenal to the world dispence?
In Eastern dress, how Raselas delights?
How strong to moral excellence invites?
Such were the labours of the god-like man,
Virtue his guide, and Honesty his plan.
Now mark the weakness of declining age,
Lament the downfal of the prostrate sage.
Like Lucifer descending from the Light,
This blazing meteor plunges into Night;
Rude Politics, with all the odious train
Of Court finesse monopolize that brain,
Where sense and manly spirit once did reign;
And maxims flow from that disast'rous pen,
Which in the worst of times would shame the worst of men:
Maxims which Machiavel would blush to own,
And Caesar Borgia as too black, disown.
(Yet S—h with congenial merit smit,
Believes him still a miracle of wit;
Deems him the masterpiece of sense refin'd,
Another Socrates to bless mankind.)
Yet think not, reader, his example vain,
No character e'er made this truth more plain,
That man is frail, and over prone to evil,
This day an Angel, and the next a Devil.
Cirencester.