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Record 21510

Reading Experience:

'Next day I dined with Johnson at Mr. Thrale's. He attacked Gray, calling him a "dull fellow." Boswell. "I understand he was reserved, and might appear dull in company; but surely he was not dull in poetry." Johnson. "Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull every where. He was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him GREAT. He was a mechanical poet." He then repeated some ludicrous lines, which have escaped my memory, and said, "Is not that GREAT, like his Odes?" Mrs. Thrale maintained that his Odes were melodious; upon which he exclaimed, "Weave the warp, and weave the woof;" I added, in a solemn tone, "The winding sheet of Edward's race". "[italics] There [end italics] is a good line."—"Ay (said he), and the next line is a good one," (pronouncing it contemptuously;) "Give ample verge and room enough.—" "No, sir, there are but two good stanzas in Gray's poetry, which are in his 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard.'" He then repeated the stanza, "For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey," &c. mistaking one word; for instead of [italics] precincts [end italics] he said [italics]confines [end italics]. He added, "The other stanza I forget".'
Century: 1700-1799
Date: Until: 28 Mar 1775
Country: n/a
Time: n/a
Place: n/a
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:James Boswell
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 29 Oct 1709
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: writer and lawyer
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: Scotland
Country of experience: n/a
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Thomas Gray
Title: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Genre: Poetry
Form of Text: Print: Unknown
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 21510  
Source - Print  
  Author: James Boswell
  Editor: R.W. Chapman
  Title: Life of Johnson
  Place of Publication: Oxford
  Date of Publication: 1980
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 600-01
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson (Oxford, 1980), p. 600-01,, accessed: 21 July 2024

Additional comments:

Originally published 1791



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)