Scottish Poetry Selection
- S.J. (1709-1784)

"S.J." is Samuel Johnson whose influence not only made itself felt in British literature but, through his Scottish biographer James Boswell, has a special place in Scottish writing too. Samuel Johnson achieved this despite voicing his dislike of Scotland and the Scots! With a twinkle in his eye, Walter Wingate here observes that much of Johnson's reputation derives from that Scotsman's biography!


Dear disputatious Johnson! On the shelf,
   Where once a year the housemaid duster plies,
   Thy "Vanity of Human Wishes" lies,
And points the author's wisdom with himself.
Haply "The Rambler," poor worm-eaten elf,
   Peregrinates thy London yet: a prize
   For some lean sizar, that with hungry eyes,
Beside the barrow counts his scanty pelf.
Irene, Rasselas, and all the rest,
Alas! Alas!-Yet here art thou, the same,
   At every board the wittiest, thirstiest guest.
How hadst thou moralised thy purblind aim
   To learn, with Scotland ever more thy jest,
That one poor Scot was master of thy fame!

Return to the Index of Walter Wingate Poems or the General Index of Scottish Poetry

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