1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Cuthbert Shaw, in The Race (1765; 1766) 16-17.



Here Johnson comes — unblest with outward grace,
His rigid morals stamp'd upon his face,
While strong conceptions struggle in his brain
(For even wit is brought to bed with pain)
To view him, porters with their loads would rest,
And babes cling frightened to the nurse's breast.
With looks convuls'd, he roars in pompous strain,
And, like an angry lion, shakes his mane.
The Nine, with terror struck, who ne'er had seen
Aught human with so horrible a mien,
Debating, whether they should stay or run—
Virtue steps forth, and claims him for her son.
With gentle speech she warns him now to yield,
Nor stain his glories in the doubtful field;
But wrapt in conscious worth, content sit down,
Since Fame resolv'd his various pleas to crown,
Tho' forc'd his present claim to disavow,
Had long resolv'd a chaplet for his brow.
He bows; obeys — for Time shall first expire,
E'er Johnson stay, when Virtue bids retire.