Richard North, 20/04/2006  

On April 15, the Conservative History blog celebrated the anniversary of that great Tory Dr Samuel Johnson’s achievement: the first publication of the Dictionary.

It occurred to me that readers of this blog might like to know the verse critique published by Dr Johnson’s friend, David Garrick:

“Talk of war with a Briton, he’ll boldly advance,
That one English soldier will beat ten of France;
Would we alter the boast from the sword to the pen,
Our odds are still greater, still greater our men …
First Shakespeare and Milton, like gods in the fight,
Have put their whole drama and epick to flight …
And Johnson, well arm’d like a hero of yore,
Has beat forty French, and will beat forty more!”

The forty French were, of course, the Academicians, whose number has been that since the founding of the Académie by Cardinal Richelieu in 1535 to this day.

One can only say: they don’t write ‘em like that any more.


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