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Richard Blackmore, (who, though he shines in his poem called "Creslion," has written more absurdities in verse than any writer of our country,) and my success will be secured. (Letter to Newton, Sept. 18. 1781.)

I am glad to be undeceived respecting the opinion I had been erroneously led into on the subject of Johnson's criticism on Watts. Nothing can be more judicious, or more characteristic of a distinguishing taste, than his observatious upon that writer; though I think him a little mistaken in his notion, that divine subjects have never been poetically treated with success. A little more Christian knowledge and experience would perhaps enable him to discover excellent poetry, upon spiritual themes, in the aforesaid little Doctor. I perfectly acquiesce in the propriety of sending Johnson a copy of my productions; and I think it would be well to send it in our joint names, accompanied with a handsome card, and such an one as may predispose him to a favourable perusal of the book, by coaxing him into a good temper; for he is a great bear, with all his learning and penetration. (Letter to Newton, Oct. 4.

1781.)

687. Cowper on the "Lives of the Poets."

Last night I made an end of reading Johnson's Prefaces. I am very much the biographer's humble admirer. His uncommon share of good sense, and his forcible expression, secure to him that tribute from all his readers. He has a penetrating insight into character, and a happy talent of correcting the popular opinion upon all occasions where it is erroneous; and this he does with the boldness of a man who will think for himself, but, at the same time, with a justness of sentiment that convinces us he does not differ from others through affectation, but because he has a sounder judgment. This remark, however, has his narrative for its object, rather than his critical performance. In the

latter, I do not think him always just, when he departs from the general opinion. He finds no beauties in Milton's Lycidas. He pours contempt upon Prior, to such a degree, that were he really as undeserving of notice as he represents him, he ought no longer to be numbered among the poets. These, indeed, are the two capital instances in which he has offended me. There are others less important, in which I am less confident that he is wrong. (Letter to Unwin, March 21. 1784.)

688. Cowper's Epitaph on Dr. Johnson.
Here Johnson lies- -a sage, by all allow'd,

Whom to have bred may well make England proud;
Whose prose was eloquence by wisdom taught,
The graceful vehicle of virtue's thought;

Whose verse may claim, grave, masculine, and strong,
Superior praise to the mere poet's song;

Who many a noble gift from Heaven possess'd,
alone worth all the rest.

And faith at last

1

Oh! man immortal by a double prize,

On earth by fame, by favour in the skies!

689. Dr. King on Johnson's English. (1)

It is a great defect in the education of our youth in both the Universities that they do not sufficiently apply themselves to the study of their mother tongue. By this means it happens, that some very learned men and polite scholars are not able to express themselves with propriety in common conversation, and that when they are discoursing on a subject which they understand perfectly well. I have been acquainted with three persons only who spoke English with that eloquence and propriety, that if all they said had been immediately committed to writing, any judge of the English language

(1) [From Dr. William King's "Anecdotes of his Own Times," 8vo. 1819.]

ful style

would have pronounced it an excellent and very beautiAtterbury, the exiled bishop of Rochester; Dr. Gower, provost of Worcester College; and Samuel Johnson.

690. Gray on "London."

"London" is one of those few imitations that have all the ease and all the spirit of the original. The same man's verses at the opening of Garrick's Theatre are far from bad. (Letter to Walpole.)

691. Richardson and Fielding.

Gray was much pleased with an answer which Dr. Johnson once gave to a person on the different and comparative merits of Fielding and Richardson. "Why, Sir, Fielding could tell you what o'clock it was; but, as for Richardson, he could make a clock or a watch." (Matthias's Gray.)

692. Johnson on Newton.

One of the most sagacious men in this age, who continues, I hope, to improve and adorn it, Samuel Johnson, remarked in my hearing, that if Newton had flourished in ancient Greece, he would have been worshipped as a divinity. How zealously then would he be adored, if his incomparable writings could be read and comprehended by the Pundits of Cashmere or Benares! (Sir William Jones, 1785.)

693. Dugald Stewart on the " Lives of the Poets." (1)

It is a melancholy fact with respect to artists of all classes;-painters, poets, orators, and eloquent writers;

that a large proportion of those who have evinced the soundest and the purest taste in their own productions, have yet appeared totally destitute of this power, when they have assumed the office of critics.

(1) [From the Philosophical Essays.]

latter, I do not think him always just, when he departs from the general opinion. He finds no beauties in Milton's Lycidas. He pours contempt upon Prior, to such a degree, that were he really as undeserving of notice as he represents him, he ought no longer to be numbered among the poets. These, indeed, are the two capital instances in which he has offended me. There are others less important, in which I am less confident that he is wrong. (Letter to Unwin, March 21. 1784.)

688. Cowper's Epitaph on Dr. Johnson.
Here Johnson lies. -a sage, by all allow'd,
Whom to have bred may well make England proud;
Whose prose was eloquence by wisdom taught,
The graceful vehicle of virtue's thought;

Whose verse may claim, grave, masculine, and strong,
Superior praise to the mere poet's song;

Who many a noble gift from Heaven possess'd,
And faith at last- alone worth all the rest.

Oh! man immortal by a double prize,

On earth by fame, by favour in the skies!

689. Dr. King on Johnson's English. (1)

It is a great defect in the education of our youth in both the Universities that they do not sufficiently apply themselves to the study of their mother tongue. By this means it happens, that some very learned men and polite scholars are not able to express themselves with propriety in common conversation, and that when they are discoursing on a subject which they understand perfectly well. I have been acquainted with three persons only who spoke English with that eloquence and propriety, that if all they said had been immediately committed to writing, any judge of the English language

(1) [From Dr. William King's "Anecdotes of his Own Times," 8vo. 1819.]

would have pronounced it an excellent and very beautiAtterbury, the exiled bishop of Rochester; Dr. Gower, provost of Worcester College; and Samuel Johnson.

ful style

66 690. Gray on

London."

"London" is one of those few imitations that have all the ease and all the spirit of the original. The same man's verses at the opening of Garrick's Theatre are far from bad. (Letter to Walpole.)

691. Richardson and Fielding.

Gray was much pleased with an answer which Dr. Johnson once gave to a person on the different and comparative merits of Fielding and Richardson. "Why, Sir, Fielding could tell you what o'clock it was; but, as for Richardson, he could make a clock or a watch." (Matthias's Gray.)

692. Johnson on Newton.

One of the most sagacious men in this age, who continues, I hope, to improve and adorn it, Samuel Johnson, remarked in my hearing, that if Newton had flourished in ancient Greece, he would have been worshipped as a divinity. How zealously then would he be adored, if his incomparable writings could be read and comprehended by the Pundits of Cashmere or Benares! (Sir William Jones, 1785.)

693. Dugald Stewart on the "Lives of the Poets." (1)

It is a melancholy fact with respect to artists of all classes;-painters, poets, orators, and eloquent writers;

that a large proportion of those who have evinced the soundest and the purest taste in their own productions, have yet appeared totally destitute of this power, when they have assumed the office of critics.

(1) [From the Philosophical Essays.]

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