1767 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Anonymous, "On Johnson's Dictionary" 1767; Virginia Gazette (7 July 1768).



In love with a pedantick jargon,
Our poets now a days are far gone;
So that a man can't read their songs,
Unless he has the gift of tongues,
Or else, to make him understand,
Keep Johnson's lexicon at hand.

Be warn'd young poet, and take heed
That Johnson you with caution read.
Always attentively distinguish
The Greek and Latin words from English,
And never use such, as 'tis wise
Not to attempt to naturalize.
Suffice the following specimen,
To make the admonition plain.

Little of ANTHROPOSOPHY has he
Who in yon FULGID CURRICLE reclines,
Alone; while I, DEPAUPERATED barb,
The streets PEDESTRIOUS scour, why with bland voice
Bids he me not his VECTITATION share?

Alas! he fears my LACERATED coat,
And visage pale with FRIGORIFICK want,
Would bring DEDECORATION on his chaise.

Me miserable! that th' Aonian hill
Is not AURIFEROUS, nor fit to bear
The FARINACEOUS food, support of bards
CARNIVEROUS but seldom, yet the soil
Which Hippocrene HUMECTATES nothing yield
But steril laurels and acquaticks sour.

To DULCIFY th' ABSINTHIATED cup
Of life, receiv'd from thy NOVERCAL hand,
Shall I have nothing, muse? To LENIFY
Thy heart INDURATE, shall poetick wo
And plaintive EJULATION nought avail?

Riches DESIDERATE I never did,
Even when in mood most OPTATIVE; a farm,
Small but APEAK, was all I ever wish'd.
I, when a rustick, would my BLATANT calves,
Well pleas'd, ABLACTATE; and, delighted, tend
My GEMELLIPAROUS sheep; nor scorn to rear
The superb turkey, and the STREPENT goose.
Then to DENDROLOGY my thoughts I'd turn,
A favourite care should HORTICULTURE be,
But most of all would GEOPONTICKS please.

While AMBULATION thoughtless I protract,
The tir'd sun APPROPINQUATES to the sea;
And now my ARID throat, and LATRANT guts,
VOCIFERATE for supper, but what house
To get it in gives DUBITATION sad.

O! for a TURGID bottle of Bell's beer,
Mature for IMBIBITATION! and O! for
(Dear object of HIATION) mutton pie!
Scotland, 1767.