1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Old Salusbury Briar, "Piozzian Rhimes" Public Advertiser (20 April 1786).



Thinking, no doubt, to rival Bozzy,
From Naples comes Signora Piozzi,
Bringing (like former wits to Tonson)
Her curious scraps of SAMUEL JOHNSON;
Old tales and private anecdotes,
Growling replies, uncouth bon-mots;
Latin and also English verses,
And counsel sage for babes and nurses,
Drest with Italian "goia" so nice,
With sugar now, and now with spice;
And that her bantling might not fail
To please Monboddo with a tail,
Behold a postscript! — Mark the cue,
To flatter Mrs. Montagu.

How strange seems this to me, who knew her,
The wife of honest Thrale the brewer,
Whose kind indulgence gave her leave
The Literati to receive,
Who at his hearty plenteous table
Might eat and drink while they were able;
While she, elated, took great pride
O'er feasting, genius to preside;
But seem'd most willing to stoop low,
On JOHNSON honours to bestow.

Ah, luckless JOHNSON, hadst thou thought
Thou shouldst be thus to market brought;
That thy lax sayings, good or bad,
Nay thy dire fears of going mad,
Should all be cask'd, and kept in store,
For sale, when thou should'st be no more,
Not the luxurious board of Thrale,
Not oceans of his wine and ale,
Not honeyed words from coaxing tongue,
In thy dull ears for ever rung,
Would have seduc'd thee to forsake
Thy own Bolt-court, and plain beef-stake.