Reading Experience Database
1450-1945

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Record 21703

Reading Experience:

Evidence:
'In the afternoon I tried to get Dr. Johnson to like the Poems of Mr. Hamilton of Bangour, which I had brought with me: I had been much pleased with them at a very early age; the impression still remained on my mind; it was confirmed by the opinion of my friend the Honourable Andrew Erskine, himself both a good poet and a good critick, who thought Hamilton as true a poet as ever wrote, and that his not having fame was unaccountable. Johnson, upon repeated occasions, while I was at Ashbourne, talked slightingly of Hamilton. He said there was no power of thinking in his verses, nothing that strikes one, nothing better than what you generally find in magazines; and that the highest praise they deserved was, that they were very well for a gentleman to hand about among his friends. He said the imitation of "Ne sit ancillae tibi amor", &c. was too solemn; he read part of it at the beginning. He read the beautiful pathetick song, 'Ah the poor shepherd's mournful fate', and did not seem to give attention to what I had been used to think tender elegant strains, but laughed at the rhyme, in Scotch pronunciation, [italics] wishes [end italics] and [italics] blushes [end italics], reading [italics] wushes [end italics]--and there he stopped. He owned that the epitaph on Lord Newhall was pretty well done. He read the 'Inscription in a Summer-house', and a little of the imitations of Horace's 'Epistles'; but said he found nothing to make him desire to read on. When I urged that there were some good poetical passages in the book. "Where (said he,) will you find so large a collection without some?" I thought the description of Winter might obtain his approbation: 'See Winter, from the frozen north Drives his iron chariot forth! His grisly hand in icy chains Fair Tweeda's silver flood constrains,' &c. He asked why an 'iron chariot'? and said 'icy chains' was an old image. I was struck with the uncertainty of taste, and somewhat sorry that a poet whom I had long read with fondness, was not approved by Dr. Johnson. I comforted myself with thinking that the beauties were too delicate for his robust perceptions'.
Century: 1700-1799
Date: 16 Sep 1777
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: Ashbourne
county: Derbyshire
   
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:Samuel Johnson
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 18 Sep 1709
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: writer
Religion: Anglican
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Boswell
Additional comments: n/a

 

Text Being Read:

Author: William Hamilton
Title: 'Ah the poor shepherd's mournful fate'
Genre: Poetry
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: read in situ
belonged to Boswell

 

Source Information:

Record ID: 21703  
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: 836-7
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson (Oxford, 1980), p. 836-7, http://can-red-lec.library.dal.ca/Arts/reading/recorddetails2.php?id=21703, accessed: 05 February 2023

Additional comments:

Originally published 1791.

 

 

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