1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Philalethes, "On reading Mrs. Piozzi's (late Mrs. Thrale's) Anecdotes. Mr. Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, and other Publications" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (31 August 1786).



Oh! Johnson, learned, venerable shade,
What havock of thy fame hath Friendship made!
What childish trophies 'round thy manly bust,
What noisome weeds are planted in thy dust!
Yet sleep in peace — and though to me unknown,
(Save from the rumour of thy learn'd renown)
Accept this verse; if ought my verse can boast,
To soothe the anguish of thy injur'd ghost.—
What though thy friends, thy dearest friends, have tried
To blaze those faults, which e'en thy foes would hide,
Though like a gem, by some rude artist set,
We mark thy flaws — thy brilliancy forget?
Yet rest assured, when all their triumph's o'er,
Thy friends and enemies are known no more.
When time shall mould the sprightly works of Thrale,
And turn to vinegar her choicest ale;
When Boswell of his birth, and friendships proud
(Macklean, Macksweyn, Mackcromheil, and Mackcloud)
Indignant round the savoury steak shall fry,
Or light Mundungus in the Isle of Sky:
When Pindar too, Soame Jennyngs, and myself,
Shall lie, meet victims, on a grocer's shelf,
Still shalt THOU last, and o'er THY hallow'd tomb,
Fair Science weep, and Bays perennial bloom.