1800 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

George Hardinge, in "Miscellaneous Observations" 1800 ca.; Miscellaneous Works (1818) 3:139-40.



I confess that, before I read some of these modern Plutarchs, I was unfashionable enough to contemplate their idol Doctor Johnson with somewhat less of devotion than it has been the rage of the day to confer upon him, even since his Friends have taken such liberties with him. But, without anatomy here of his just character, may I not assert, that his fame has received infinite prejudice from the reporters of this "tremendous Companion," as he was called one day by a man of arch and shrewd simplicity? — Have not their anecdotes produced the effect of a satire upon him, though innocent of all wit? — and is it the legitimate province of a satirical Historian to form a character out of defects alone, either as topicks of censure and of obloquy, or, to heighten the ridicule, as forced into themes of praise?